Sometime last March together with my colleague Edmée Schalkx, we decided we wanted to work with coaches who were interested in developing the coaching cultural competency. While designing the programme we realised that not always people see culture around them, embedded in our daily lives, at work in at leisure time; how we are surrounded by culture in our communities, societies and environment.

We then concluded that if we wanted to succeed, our starting point had to be different. It meant taking a couple of steps back, going back to basics, and aiming to create cultural awareness in coaches, managers and organisations, instead of departing from the assumptions our potential students were fully aware of the role of culture in our daily lives.

Our first action in this mission of creating awareness was to offer an 8-day Culture Challenge for managers and organisations where the concept of culture is more accessible. We got great feedback and compliments on how this challenge opened the participants’ eyes to the fact that culture is like the air we breathe: it’s there, but we seem to be unaware of it.

During 2017 we will continue in our aim of raising awareness of how culture impacts people’s life.

Christmas is just around the corner and whether you love Christmas or it brings out the Grinch in you, this celebration makes for an outstanding opportunity to talk about how culture shapes our daily life.

When we look at the history, Humanity has been celebrating for a long time around the winter solstice (21st December) with food, drinks, dances and exchanges of little presents. In Norway the Yule fest, in Germany they have Oden a “dark“ god and in Ancient Rome the Saturnalia, thanking Saturn, the god of agriculture, for the bounties of the seasons. These feasts were all around the winter solstice, whilst days darkened but with the promise of brighter days to come. The fermentation of wines and beers was completed and the cattle were killed for the long winter ahead. All these feasts had lights, darkness, sharing food and many excesses in common.

 

In the fourth century, Pope Julius I, declared 25th of December as the day when Jesus was born. In this way the Catholic Church was able to banish a pagan feast and introduce it as a religious celebration. The food orgies, lights and exchange of little presents remained but a visit to the church and acts of kindness for the less fortunate were added. This is the basis of Christmas we celebrate nowadays.

Do you know that Christmas is not only celebrated by Christians? Around the world people with different religions celebrate Christmas as well. Like Jews in the USA, Japanese do too, as well as many other non-Christian cultures. In part each culture has a different reason to do so.

In Japan Christmas is more about spreading happiness and sharing with a loved one (a bit like Valentine’s day). Jews in the USA started celebrating Christmas more to be part of the custom of exchanging card and gift in schools, and among friends and colleagues. Thus creating a sense of belonging and sharing happiness, presents and sweets.

In fact, the evolution of Christmas really illustrates the life cycle of culture! This is a dynamic process because we interact with the environment we live in. Constantly we are influenced by social media, the information shapes our thoughts and opinions. With culture this is the same, our customs keep changing over time, continuously we are adapting and adjusting our norms and what we belief in.

We are looking forward to continue the conversation with all of you. Stay connected and keep learning from each other.

🌟Wishing you a very happy Holiday season!🌟

Fondly,

Henriëtte