What is the Christmas experience of our American colleagues
We say: so many counties, so many customs. This applies to Christmas as well. Even though many people worldwide celebrate this most beautiful holiday that comes from Christian traditions, their celebrations differ in every country. As an example we can mention the USA. While American children find their gifts under the Christmas tree in the morning on Christmas Day, our kids enjoy them already in the evening on Christmas Eve. Meals and decorations also differ. We asked three of our American colleagues how they spend the most beautiful holiday of the year, and whether they are familiar with Slovak traditions. We asked them the following questions:
1. Are you familiar with Slovak traditions, and have you had the opportunity to experience them by yourself?
2. Where will you be spending Christmas this year?
3. How do you celebrate Christmas in your family?
4. Could you describe Christmas when you were a kid?
Richard C. SHANK, Vice President BSC
1. I have never experienced Christmas in Slovakia before, only since I arrived in Košice this year. My family on my mother´s side comes from Poland, so there might be some similarity with your traditions. But I am still in the phase of learning and getting familiar with your customs.
2. For Christmas I will get back to Pittsburgh. This will be my first return home since I arrived in Slovakia. However I will be celebrating New Year´s Eve here.
3. Me, my sister, my brother and their families spend Christmas Eve in my parent´s house. We stay there the next day as well. This holiday will be special for my parents, because they have their first granddaughter in the family. We are already excited about watching her unwrapping the presents. We will also exchange gifts, but the most important thing is that we will be spending time together. Because usually throughout the year we are far away from each other.
4. As a kid I remember that Christmas was mostly about the family. My grandmother on my mother´s side used to prepare a special Polish meal every Christmas Eve, and grandfather sang songs with the children. This was the only day during the year when I heard him singing. Later in the evening we went to visit the grandparents on my father´s side. We were happy when we got snow at Christmas.
Michael A. TOOKEY, General Manager Commercial Strategy
1. I have not spent Christmas in Košice yet, but I am familiar with some of your traditions. I know you fry a carp and cook sauerkraut soup.
2. Me and my family fly back to the USA, and we will be spending Christmas with our closest family.
3. Since our family lives throughout the entire USA, it is the best opportunity to meet together and celebrate the most beautiful holiday of the year. A part of our customs is also volunteer work. During the Christmas season we try to help those who need it the most.
4. When I was a kid we always used to have snow during Christmas. I could spend my time with the kids from our neighborhood, we went out sledging, building snowmen and having "real" snowball fights.
Mark T. SALO, General Manager Safety and Industrial Hygiene and REACH USSK
1. I have already experienced the local Christmas markets and tasted Christmas specialties. I do not know many Slovak customs, but I like the fact that you prepare a carp. Last year I stayed in Slovakia in the company of other Americans.
2. This year I will be spending Christmas in Minnesota with my parents, sister and her family.
3. On Christmas Eve we will go to church and then we will have our dinner. My sister married into a Japanese family, so we will have stewed seafood. The next day we will exchange gifts and we will have some fun with our family and friends. Later in the afternoon we will have dinner again. The typical meal is beef ribs with potatoes, vegetable and bread. And as dessert, apple and pumpkin pie as well as ice-cream.
4. I grew up in Northern Minnesota, so we always got snow there. My parents always wanted Christmas to be special for me and my sister. They decorated the whole house and trees in the garden with decorative lights. They also decorated the Christmas tree and the interior of the house. In our church community we observed all traditions, including fasting. My mum baked cakes and other treats. We used to spend Christmas Eve with my father´s side of the family, and Christmas Day with my mum´s family. We enjoyed good meals, such as turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, rice and spicy green beans. Then we exchanged gifts. I used to play ice-hockey in the street with my cousins on Christmas Day.
Happy and Peaceful Christmas to All People of Good Will
Extract from USSK President’s statement addressed to employees: