Holidays All Around Us

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November brings the start of the holiday season for us in the U.S. We eagerly anticipate turkey, family and football for Thanksgiving. December brings us office holiday parties, family gatherings, Christmas and Hanukkah. As more and more of our organizations become wonderfully diverse with leaders and coworkers from around the world, it behooves us to pay a bit of attention to the holidays celebrated by other nationalities and cultures, especially our neighbors to the north and south, Canada and Mexico.

Our neighbor to the north also celebrates the Thanksgiving holiday, but in October. The Canadian Thanksgiving is the second Monday in October. Like the U.S., they celebrate with turkey, family and football. Did you know the first Thanksgiving celebrated in North America was in Canada, arrived in Newfoundland in 1578.

Canada also has a July holiday – July 1 which is Canada Day. This holiday celebrates Canada becoming a self-governing dominion of Great Britain (July 1, 1867). Store windows are decked out in white and red with the Canadian maple leaf flag proudly displayed.

We both share the same Labor Day holiday in September, but of course, they spell it Labour. Their unofficial kick-off to the summer season starts with Victoria Day, which is usually the Monday before our Memorial Day. This day honors the birthday of Queen Victoria and the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth. They celebrate with parades and fireworks.

Our neighbor to the south celebrates several different holidays. For Americans, Cinco de Mayo is probably the most well-known Mexican holiday. May 5 commemorates the defeat of the French army in the Battle of Puebla. This is not to be confused with the country’s Independence Day, which is Sept. 16. As in the U.S. and Canada, Mexican’s Independence Day includes shows of patriotism with the green, white and red colors of Mexico’s flag proudly displayed. Their Independence Day celebrates the country’s freedom from Spanish rule.

Mexico also celebrates a Labor Day, but it is celebrated on May 1. One of Mexico’s most celebrated days is Dec. 12, Our Lady of Guadalupe Day, a religious holiday. Other holidays include Constitution Day, the first Monday in February; and Benito Juarez Day, the third Monday in March. Benito Juarez is a national hero, known for making reforms to create a democratic federal republic.

If you saw last year’s James Bond movie, Spectre, you were treated to a scene in Mexico City during the holiday, Day of the Dead, also known as All Souls’ Day or All Saints’ Day. This is a holiday to remember deceased relatives and friends. All Saints’ Day, November 1, and Day of the Dead, Nov. 2, are bigger than Halloween in Mexico.

These are by no means an exclusive list of the national holidays celebrated by our neighbors. In my work, managing corporate mentorship programs with Mentor Roadmap™ materials, I collaborate with Toronto-based author and coach, Jennifer Britton. When we schedule our working calls over Skype, I have to mindful of the Canadian holidays, such the ones I’ve listed here, as well as others celebrated in the province of Ontario.

My brother works in sales in the plastics industry, he does quite a bit of work in Mexico, so he naturally must pay attention to the Mexican holidays. As more and more of us work across our borders, take time to learn a little about our neighbors’ holidays and cultures. Ask coworkers from those countries how they celebrate the holidays. And to everyone in our Lansing community, have a delicious and happy Thanksgiving!


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Susan Combs

Susan Combs, MBA and Professional Certified Coach, works with coaching clients to create fresh starts, enhance their leadership skills and increase their confidence. She is an authorized licensee of the Fit Leader's Program. Susan provides one-on-one coaching, DiSC team-building training and manages corporate mentor programs. She lives in Lansing with her son, Max, and their golden retriever puppy. Visit SusanCombsCoaching.com or MentorRoadmap.com for more information.