With leaders and associates located in 33 markets worldwide, ASEA celebrates and honors the diversity of experience and values, seeing people as people. This holiday season, as we settle into our favorite traditions and festivities, we wanted to spotlight ASEA corporate employees with diverse backgrounds and showcase how their families celebrate the holidays.
Senior Digital Marketing Manager and ASEA Social Media guru Samantha Oznowicz hails from Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden, where she grew up on an island named Krokholm with six other families. Some of her favorite Swedish festivities are Midsummer, celebrated in June, and Lucia’s Day, which is honored on December 13th. On this day, Sweden celebrates one of its most exotic-looking customs known as Lucia. Boys and girls dress in full-length white gowns, holding candles and singing songs together in the early morning hours. Lucia is an ancient, mythical figure who has the key role of bringing light during the dark Swedish winters. One must not forget the best part of the celebration, the saffron buns!
Samantha and her sister took turns year-to-year dressing up and performing as Santa Lucia. The observance commemorates Lucia of Syracuse, an early-4th-century martyr, who according to legend, brought food and aid to Christians hiding in the Roman catacombs, wearing a candlelit wreath on her head to light the way and allow her to carry as much food as possible. Sankta Lucia in Swedish, she is represented as a lady in a white dress symbolizing a baptismal robe and a red sash, with a crown or wreath of candles on her head. Lucies will visit shopping malls, old people’s homes, and churches, singing and handing out gingernut cookies (pepparkakor) and saffron buns (Luciabullar).
“Lucia is one of the key traditions that my family retained after moving to the United States. It is a day for us to sing and bake together, one of my favorite days of the year,” says Samantha.
ASEA’s newest Brand Manager Wayne Iu is from Hong Kong, China. As a former British colony, Hong Kong was greatly influenced by western culture. In some ways, the Christmas and New Year holidays aren’t much different compared to other western countries, such as America and Canada. For instance, shopping malls, local merchants, parks, and business buildings start putting up Christmas decorations by mid of December. This festive tradition has created a wonderful time for family, couples, and friends to enjoy each other’s company.
“Growing up, my parents would take my brother and me to visit different shopping districts to see the Christmas lights,” said Wayne. “New Year’s Eve is one of the special times I enjoyed, mostly because of the opportunity to stay up late and watch the fireworks. Each year, the city hosts a handful of firework shows, one of which is during New Year’s Eve. During this special night, folks will gather on both shores of the Vitoria Harbor, counting down for the new year to come. At midnight, the fireworks show will begin to celebrate the new year. The unique element of this is the famous skyscraper behind the fireworks creates a stunning picture that will last in your memory.”
Senior Brand and Global Regional Marketing Manager Saakshi Agarwal is from India. Diwali begins a month before the actual festival, usually around late October and into early November. Because Saakshi grew up in India, celebrating Diwali meant shopping for new clothes, hanging out with cousins, feasting every day, and of course, setting off fireworks. Diwali celebrations are spread over five days. On the actual Diwali day, families offer prayers to Goddess Lakshmi at home and visit the temple. The thing that makes Diwali special for so many is that it almost always falls on a no moon day, and yet, it is the brightest night of the year! Greeting everyone with “Happy Diwali” – whether you knew them or not brings an additional charm to the festival.
“My mom would make trays and trays of homemade “mithai” (Indian sweets) that my siblings and I would go around the neighborhood to deliver,” says Saakshi, “I would help my mother prepare these traditional goodies. My dad would pull out the string lights from the attic and ensure every corner of the doors and windows of the house were lit up. At the same time, the children were responsible for cleaning their rooms in order to adhere to the popular Hindu belief that the Goddess of wealth and prosperity – Laxmi, resides in cleanliness.”
“Since my hubby and I have moved to the US, we’ve adapted our celebrations to our new lifestyle here. Celebrating here has been about creating beautiful memories with new friends – who have become our family away from home.”
A Beautiful ASEA Family
At ASEA, we are so proud of our diverse and multi-cultural family of employees, executives, and associates across the world. Tyler Norton has talked about the idea of truly seeing people, honoring their humanity, and showing them love and respect. With our unique differences, we can work together towards a more complete and healthy corporate soul. It is an honor to have the contributions of so many amazing backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, and families in our wonderful ASEA family. From everyone at ASEA, we wish you Happy Holidays!