Embracing Diversity: How Different Ethnic Communities in the UK Celebrate Christmas
It’s important to understand how different cultures in the UK celebrate the festive season, as it can help you create marketing materials that resonate with them.
This is especially advantageous since a report by Finder revealed that the UK will spend over £20.1 billion on gifts and celebrations. With 13% of the UK population consisting of members of ethnic minorities, brands could be missing out on a potential market of £2.6 billion.
It’s worth noting that people from ethnic minority groups in the UK celebrate Christmas in various ways, depending on their cultural traditions, beliefs, sense of belonging, and other factors. To ensure you don’t miss out on that £2.6 billion spend, you must be culturally aware and understand how different cultures celebrate the festive season.
In this blog, we will discuss how different cultures celebrate Christmas in the UK.
East Asian Celebrations in the UK:
People from East Asian backgrounds, including China, Japan, and Korea, bring their unique traditions to Christmas celebrations in the UK. Many East Asians embrace the festive season by blending Western and East Asian customs. While some attend Christmas services, others incorporate elements of their cultural celebrations into the holiday season.
Additionally, individuals from East Asian backgrounds in the UK observe other cultural holidays and events between November and January, such as Chinese New Year, Dongzhi Festival, Japan’s Omisoka, and Korean Seollal.
These celebrations add a layer of richness and diversity to their festive season and should be considered when creating any marketing materials.
Latin-American Festivities in the UK:
The Latin-American community in the UK is made up of over 250,000 people, with many situated in London.
Colourful decorations, upbeat music, and festive gatherings often mark Christmas in Latin America, so individuals from Latin-American backgrounds may continue these traditions in the UK by organising celebrations, complete with Latin-American music, dance, and delicious traditional dishes.
The sense of community and togetherness is a crucial aspect of Latin-American Christmas celebrations, and this spirit is likely to be reflected in their festivities in the UK.
To learn more about the Latin-American experience in the UK, listen to this podcast episode:
Eastern European Traditions in the UK:
With over 57% of the Eastern European population identifying as Orthodox Christian and 18% identifying as Catholic, Christmas is often celebrated more traditionally due to the focus on religion.
However, customs vary among communities and religions. Christians from Eastern Europe will often have fish (typically a carp. Polish families wait for the first star before their Christmas Eve meal, symbolising the Star of Bethlehem. Bulgarians celebrate with a twelve-course meatless meal and observe Christmas twice, on the 25th and 26th.
Many Eastern Europeans in the UK continue to uphold their unique holiday practices and are less likely to blend them with British traditions. However, like ours, exchanging gifts, carolling, and spending quality time with loved ones during the holiday are integral to Eastern European Christmas celebrations.
Our Founder and Managing Director, Tomasz Dyl, is Polish and has said, “In Poland, we leave an empty plate and cutlery in case someone in need comes in and would like to have a dinner they might not have had otherwise”.
South Asian Blends of Tradition in the UK:
People with South Asian backgrounds will often celebrate the festive period differently due to their different beliefs, religions, and traditions. Many key holidays tend to fall around Christmas time, such as Diwali, Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti, and Pancha Ganapati.
So, some may celebrate Christmas by combining elements of both their South Asian and Western traditions, such as by decorating the house and preparing a traditional meal to share with friends and family.
For example, our Marketing Executive Rajit originates from India, and he celebrates Christmas in the UK by gathering with his family, visiting the Christmas lights, and enjoying a Christmas lunch and dinner together. This is like how his family celebrates Christmas in India; they go to church, dine, and party together. So, Rajit celebrates by combining both elements of Indian and Western culture.
African & Caribbean Celebrations in the UK:
African and Caribbean communities in the UK combine religious and secular traditions to celebrate Christmas.
Festive concerts, outdoor feasts, and street parades reminiscent of Christmas in Africa and the Caribbean are common. While some celebrate traditionally with street parades and shows, others participate in British Christmas customs like carol singing, sending cards, and attending parties.
Most people from these communities in the UK celebrate Christmas by attending religious services, decorating their homes, exchanging gifts, and enjoying special holiday meals with loved ones.
This can vary from generation to generation and location, so do thorough research to ensure cultural nuances are considered.
It’s essential not to impose Western ideals or traditions on your audience. Even if your target audience consists of individuals who identify with British culture or have a stronger sense of belonging to the UK, they may also have strong cultural ties elsewhere. Ignoring or dismissing these can make your communications sound generic and may not resonate with your audience.
It’s also important to recognise that there are so many other key holidays that fall at this time; ignoring them will result in you missing out on a large group of people.
However, it’s important to note that there is a delicate balance between aligning your brand with your audience’s beliefs and traditions and getting it wrong and causing offence. Therefore, it is crucial to be mindful of cultural differences and approach them respectfully and sensitively.
Consult team members with lived experience or contact specialists when tailoring communications to specific communities.
We’ve been connecting with the 14.6 million individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds in the UK for over 15 years on behalf of global brands. Our team consists of experts who deeply understand the experiences of the communities we target, allowing us to craft compelling communications that resonate with our audience.
Learn more about how our team can help your brand tap into the £2.6 billion market share that ethnic minorities hold each festive season by clicking here.