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TCMPiThe Cheater’s Guide to Holiday Greetings


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No matter how you say it, holiday and beginning-of-the-year greetings can translate into improved relationships with business acquaintances virtually anywhere in the world. But say it wrong and you could be asking for a world of trouble.

As we approach the Christmas holiday and the beginning of a new year, businesses all over the world are busy wishing each other some variation of holiday greetings. If you interact with companies from other parts of the world, expressing your greeting in the person’s native language can make your good wishes have greater impact.

Language and/or Country Merry Christmas
(or Happy Holidays)
Happy New Year Who is “Santa?” Gift Giving Protocols
Afrikaans/Nambia and South Africa Gesëende Kersfees Voorspoedige nuwe jaar Vader Kersfees (Father Christmas) Wrap your gift nicely. Gifts are opened when received.
Arabic/most of the Middle East
(Note: There are hundreds of Arabic dialects.)
Kul ‘am wa antum bikhair بابا نويل Always give and receive gifts with your right hand ONLY.
Bahasa/Indonesia Selamat Tahun Baru Business gift giving protocols vary considerably given the multi- cultural nature of Indonesia.
Basque/Spain and France Urte Berri on
Bengali/Bangladesh and West Bangal Shuvo noboborsho Father Christmas, Santa Claus, and Saint Nicholas
Cantonese/China Sun nien fai lok Dun Che Lao Ren (“Christmas Old Man”) Avoid gifts that are overly expensive or ostentatious.
Czech/Czechoslovakia Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok Stastny Novy Rok Svatý Mikuláš, or St. Nicholas Gifts are usually opened when received.
Danish/Denmark Glædelig Jul Godt NytÅr Julemanden “the Christmas man” Danes enjoy alcohol such as wine or whiskey. Keep gifts small but personal.
Dutch/Netherlands Gelukkig nieuwjaar Sinter Klaas Any gift should be of good quality but not obviously expensive. Modest gifts are the safest choices.
(Note: English is the official language of dozens of countries.)
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays Happy New Year Santa, Father Christmas
(Note: Esperanto is a second language that people learn so as to speak with other people from other countries.)
Gajan Kristnaskon Bonan Novjaron
Finnish/Finland Hyvää Joulua Onnellista uutta vuotta Joulupukki
French/Belgium, France, much of Africa, parts of Canada Joyeux Noël Bonne année Pere Noel In France, good gifts include books or music, as they demonstrate interest in intellectual pursuits. Do not give wine unless it is a fine French wine.
German/Germany, Austria, Switzerland
(Note: German is the official language of the European Union.)
Froehliche Weihnachten Ein glückliches neues Jahr Weihnachtsmann (“Christmas Man”)
Greek/Greece, Cyprus Kala Christouyenna Eutychismenos o kainourgios chronos Agios Vassilis
Hausa/Nigeria Barka da sabuwar shekara Gifts should be given using the right hand only or both hands. Gifts are not always opened when received.
Hawaiian/US Mele Kalikimaka Hauoli Makahiki hou Kanakaloka
Hebrew/Israel Shana Tova
Hindi/Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Iran Bada Din Mubarak Ho
Hmong/Laos Nyob Zoo Xyoo Tshiab
Hungarian/Hungary Boldog uj evet Mikulas (St. Nicholas) Do not give wine as the Hungarians are proud of the wines they produce.
Icelandic/Iceland Gledileg Jol
Irish/Ireland Nollaig Shona Dhuit Daddaí Na Nollaig A gift need not be expensive.
Italian/Italy, Switzerland Buon Natale or Buone Feste Natalizie Felice Anno Nuovo or Buon anno Babbo Natale
Japanese/Japan Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu Santa no ojisan,”Uncle Santa” Always present your business gift with two hands!
Korean/Korea Sung Tan Chuk Ha Sehe Bokmanee Bateuseyo Santa Haraboji If at all possible, give an expensive gift as generosity is highly valued in Korea.
Lithuanian/Lithuania Linksmu Kaledu Dyed Moroz (Grandfather Frost)
Mandarin/China shèng dàn kuài lè Xin nian yu kuai shèng dàn lǎo rén Avoid gifts that are overly expensive or ostentatious.
Maori/parts of New Zealand Meri Kirihimete Hana Kōkō
Norwegian/Norway God Jul Godt Nytt År Julenissen (“Christmas gnome”)
Polish/Poland Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia Szczesliwego Nowego Roku Swiety Mikolaj (St. Nicholas)
Portuguese/Brazil and Portugal Feliz Natal Papai Noel In Portugal expensive gifts are given and considered a sign of mutual respect and not a bribe.
Romanian/Romania La Multi Ani si Un An Nou Fericit Mos Craciun
Russian/Russia Srozhdestovm Kristovim Ded Moroz (“Grandfather Frost”) Russians often protest when they are offered a gift. Reply that it is a little something and offer the gift again and it will generally be accepted.
Samoan/Samoa Ia manuia le Tausaga Fou
Spanish/Spain, most of Central and South America Feliz Navidad Feliz año nuevo Viejo Pascuero (“Old Man Christmas”) In Central and South America Be careful of the type of flowers you give. Some varieties are used for funerals only.
Swahili/much of West central Africa
(Note: The holiday “Kwanzaa” takes its name for the Swahili for “first fruit of the harvest.”)
Kuwa na Krismasi njema Heri za Mwaka Mpya
Swedish/Sweden Gott Nytt År Jultomten (“Christmas brownie”)
Tagalog/Philippines Maligayang Pasko Manigong Bagong Taon
Thai/Thailand Suksun Wan Christmas Sawatdee Pi Mai It is considered offensive to rip the wrapping; it must be removed carefully. Gifts should be modest.
Vietnamese/Viet Nam Chuc Mung Giang Sinh Chuc mung nam moi
Welsh/Wales Nadolig Llawen Blwyddyn Newydd Dda Sion Corn
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