There’s no escaping the holidays now. Whether you’re in line at the shop or minding your own business on the Tube, you will (whether you like it or not) be reminded again and again that Christmas is only a few weeks away.
And while it only takes two minutes for the songs to get annoying and the blatant consumerism to suck you in and make you feel guilty for not spending all your wages on stuff that’ll just be forgotten a week later, there is something to be said about the festive lights and crisp, cold air that makes your endless supply of hot chocolate all the sweeter.
But that’s just one snapshot of the holiday season. It’s hard to talk about this time of year as one universal experience, mainly because Geeky Tech is an international company and some of our employees work in various parts of the world where Christmas is regarded with polite indifference.
So, rather than tell a story that’s befitting a Bing Crosby musical, why don’t we check in with some of our international Geeks to see what everyone is getting up to this time of year?
The Holidays in the UK
Why don’t we start at home, where the majority of our team lives and where you’ll find the quintessential holiday scenes unfolding. There may be snow and delightful stone cottages all tucked in for the evening, with glowing Christmas trees being proudly displayed by windows for passersby to see.
At least that’s what I picture in my head. Let’s see what Christmas is like for Nicole.
Nicole lives in Manchester with her parents and brother. She has been with Geeky Tech for many years and you might know her as the expert who whips social accounts into shape.
When asked to talk about her Christmas plans and traditions, her first response was ‘My Christmases are so boring,’ but later replaced the adjective for “typical,” which sounds more accurate to me.
Nicole, whose extended family lives in Greece and France, has what you might call a quiet holiday.
When Christmas Eve comes around, you might find her at the mall getting her Boxing Day shopping done early. On Christmas Day, her family opens their presents at home before making their way to her grandparents’ house, where her grandmother has been cooking up a storm.
In their advanced years, Nicole’s grandparents have become the focal point of this holiday. After having spent two years in fear and frustration, her grandfather will finally get to spend the quality time with his family that he’s been longing for.
Their traditional Christmas table centrepiece, the giant turkey, is usually won by her brother who, every year, gets a Christmas bird from his employer in exchange for a Christmas carol. I didn’t realize that the saying ‘sing for your supper’ existed outside of historical novels, but I find it exceptionally twee.
On Boxing Day, Nicole and her dad often make their way to a football match, which sounds like the perfect way to digest copious amounts of holiday fare.
Whilst Nicole and her brother are relaxing on the couch, let’s travel from Manchester to the Peak District.
Whereas Nicole’s Christmas is low-key and unruffled, Alan’s might be anything but. This year will be quite special for Alan and his family because the headcount has increased significantly since the last time all the Mansfords sat at the same table.
Last year, Covid prevented the Mansfords from celebrating.
The year before that, Alan and his siblings spent Christmas with the families of their significant others.
This year, it’s the Manfords’ turn to congregate under one roof, and it’s going to be even more special now that both Alan and his younger sister welcomed their first-borns earlier in 2021.
Alan and his twin brother, who already has two children of his own, will also spend another year hoping their December 25th birthday will get an honourable mention. But with two new grandbabies to spoil, it’s doubtful their parents will even remember (just kidding, Alan).
It’s an unwritten rule that the bigger the family, the bigger the to-do, and from the sounds of it, Alan’s mum won’t hold anything back. In his words, Mrs. Mansford is an ‘enthusiastic cook’, and just like Nicole, they will be dining on all the traditional fixings you can imagine.
Once the presents are opened and the Mansfords, their kids, and their dogs are positively catatonic from indigestion, they’ll meander over to the couch where they’ll crack open some board games or watch Christmas movies (Alan is trying to get everyone to watch Groundhog Day this year).
I feel like Alan’s Christmas could be repackaged as one of those feel-good Hallmark holiday movies where everyone pairs up, has kids, and lives happily ever after, but the constraints of this blog post force me to cut the storytelling short.
Suffice it to say, talking to Alan about his Yuletide festivities has felt like the warmest hug.
On that note, let’s go to Iberia.
Christmas in Portugal
As this is my third Christmas in Portugal, I was fairly confident that I cracked the code on Portuguese Christmas, or Natal.
On the surface, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a Catholic country: on Christmas Eve, my neighbours make their short pilgrimage to the nearby church where they will spend the rest of their evening doing what pious people do best: singing, praying, and engaging in ceremony.
I actually think it’s quite beautiful to witness a Christmas that hasn’t quite caught up with the frantic consumerism of the rest of the Western world. Somehow, Central Portugal has survived without Mariah Carey or Michael Bublé, and that’s how I thought the rest of the country experienced the holidays.
But then I talked to Pati.
Geeky Tech’s web designer was born and raised in and around Lisbon. When Patricia described what her Christmas would be like this year (and how it has been every year in the past), I sort of had an “oh…really?” moment when I realized that her holiday celebrations sound very similar to Alan’s.
The major difference is that the party starts on Christmas Eve.
Patricia’s huge family congregates for dinner on the 24th, where they dine on codfish and an ill-advisable amount of dessert. It’s tradition in their family to open presents at midnight, so in between digesting their sweets and waiting for the clock to strike 12, Pati’s family will relax, play board games, or maybe take a nap whilst they wait. Then, ‘Santa Claus’ will appear and hand out presents, usually with the help of one of the older kids.
Patricia has a big family. Huuuuge. But it doesn’t matter how many people show up, everyone gets a present. That means Pati is tasked with buying a gift for every single cousin, aunt, and uncle. This year, however, they’re going to opt for Secret Santa instead, and I can’t say I blame them.
Patricia’s festivities continue on the 25th, where she, her husband, and their young daughter will head over to his parents house for an intimate celebration that sounds a lot more like Nicole’s. There’s usually turkey, more dessert, and yes, more presents.
And this year, she tells me, there will be Christmas crackers, a British tradition she and her husband have decided to adopt after having spent years in Edinburgh. Pati loves Edinburgh.
Please save me some dessert, Pati.
All right, let’s go to North Africa.
December in Morocco
You might think there isn’t much to talk about here. After all, as a Muslim country, Morocco pretty much carries on as normal in December.
We’re not here to disagree with you. But seeing as how our entire paid media team hails from this beautiful part of the world, it would be a shame not to catch up with Amine and see what he’s getting up to this month.
Our media expert is fairly certain that he won’t be taking any time off in between Christmas and New Year’s Eve—not just because Christmas is a day in the calendar that he observes with just a passing acknowledgement, but because he has vacation plans.
In January, Amine is going to find snow.
Eight hours from Amine’s home, there’s a place called Ifrane. Nestled in the Atlas Mountains and dubbed ‘Little Switzerland,’ you’d never guess that this holiday destination is located in the same country and within just a relatively short distance from the constant warmth of Casablanca.
Amine says that Morocco is like that. You have snow-capped mountains on one side, turquoise beaches on the coast and burnt orange desert on the outskirts.
Despite my love for Christmas, I think Amine wins this round. If you don’t believe me, Google Ifrane.
Enjoy your paradiscal journey through the mountains, Amine!
Okay, last stop: Western Asia.
The Holidays in Turkey
Full disclosure: I had no idea that Christmas isn’t a huge deal in Turkey. I did know that the country is a mosaic of religions, cultures, languages, peoples, and histories—which I guess is the pseudointellectual way of sugarcoating my ignorance about the Turkish way of life.
But that’s okay because now we have our dear Chloe to paint a picture for us.
Did you know that Turkey is home to not one but two of our Geeks? While both of them are originally from the UK, you can tell that they think of Turkey as their home.
Let’s find out what Chloe’s Christmas is going to be like.
You might not recognise Chloe from our monthly review calls, but you may remember her as the first person you spoke to at Geeky Tech.
Chloe is responsible for our client outreach on LinkedIn. And pretty soon, well by the time this post goes out, she will be a mother for the second time.
Having said that, Christmas this year will be very different for Chloe, who usually makes the journey back to the UK where her plane descends into a welcoming sea of twinkling Christmas lights.
Sometimes Chloe’s husband makes the journey with her, but since he is required to apply for an expensive tourist visa every time he visits, it’s usually not worth it. So, Chloe typically spends Christmas day with her daughter, parents, and the family dog, and by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around, she’s back in Turkey with her husband.
Chloe’s Christmas kind of sounds amazing: her family binges on chocolate and Christmas movies, drinks Baileys, and eats as much turkey as possible, all while snuggled in the wooly warmth of their favourite Christmas jumpers.
This year, Chloe’s daughter will finally be old enough to enjoy the Christmas theatre shows and festive lights. Chloe’s excited to introduce her to Santa Claus and Christmas presents.
Because of Chloe’s imminent due date (literally this week), it’s impossible for her to return to the UK this Christmas. If it were any other year, she’d spend her Christmas Eve at the pub with her classmates or on the couch watching holiday movies (Jack Frost is her favourite).
Even though her husband pokes fun at the pageantry of the holiday season, Chloe suspects that he enjoys it more than he lets on. On New Year’s Eve, they’ll usually find themselves at a restaurant where they’ll listen to live music and just chill out.
Good luck, Chloe! We know this Christmas will be like no other.
We’re Back Home
Well, there you go. We just circled the globe like Santa’s team of reindeer. We are fortunate enough to work with people from all over the world whose backgrounds and cultures enrich our lives in various ways.
On behalf of the entire Geeky Tech team, we wish all our customers, friends, and family the warmest wishes this holiday season. May you stuff yourselves with copious amounts of eggnog and chocolate and sing “Last Christmas” until you’re positively blue in the face!