carnivalIt’s  impossible to know what’s going on everywhere, and March is a particularly confusing – and culturally delightful – month if you celebrate according to any religious calendar, or if you work with someone who does.

Easter, for example,  is very moveable, according to Church and place. This is confusing enough for people who work in non-Christian cultures/places, but can really catch you out if you live somewhere that DOES celebrate, thanks to differences in Church calendars. You think you know when Lent starts, when Easter is coming until, suddenly, people are celebrating and taking holidays at unexpected times.

Suffice to say that March, April and early May are times when you can’t afford to take anything – holiday date wise at least –  for granted, and if you work on a global team, it pays to ask very explicitly what holidays will be taken, when.

Many places use the start of Lent as a time for carnival/carnaval, and amongst the biggest festivals are: Mardi Gras, celebrated in New Orleans (USA), which is, I’m told, already in the party spirit; the World renowned Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Carnevale in Venice, Italy. Officially falling on February 4, some festivities start on March 4, some will end then. There’s a great list on Wikipedia: it makes me sorry I live in England, where we’ll be tossing some pancakes and going to work as normal, missing out on the party. Don’t expect too much from your work colleagues if they’re partying that ferociously!

For Muslims, Mawlid (Maulid) is being celebrated in many places during March. It is both a cultural and religious festival (already celebrated by some  in January).It marks the birthday of the prophet Mohammed and is a public holiday in countries like India and Pakistan, as well as some African states.

Early March sees the ‘Harvest Festival’ (Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia) in Argentina. The country produced around 1.3 billion litres of wine in 2012, so the wine harvest is massively significant to people’s  daily lives as well as the economy. Although it’s not marked with a national holiday, it is a time for festivities, and if you have co-workers in the region, expect them to be celebrating,

Falling in March is Holi – the festival of colours – is an ancient Hindu religious festival celebrated in many parts of South Asia and beyond, including by non-Hindus. A key element is ‘forgive and forget’. As it falls in line with the lunar calendar, and people start to gather days beforehand, dates may shift a little according to location. Most people will, however, be celebrating on March 17 this year. In Jaipur (India) it becomes the amazingly colourful Elephant Festival.

Also on March 17, Ireland’s workers will be taking time off to celebrate St Patricks Day.

In South Africa, Human Rights Day is celebrated on 21 March. The date marks the ‘Sharpeville Massacre’, 21 March 1960, when a protest against the apartheid regime in South Africa ended in at least 69 deaths and changed the country’s political landscape. It’s a national holiday, and, given the relatively recent death of key anti-apartheid figure Nelson Mandela, may hold some special significance this year.

At the end of the month, Bali, Indonesia, will celebrate New Year. With roots as a Hindu Festival, it sees out the old year with festivities, but New Year’s day, Nyepi, on March 31 sees everything closed, including the airport, and a day of silence on which only emergency services are working, and no-one leaves their home (or hotel). Whilst Bali is relatively small in terms of international business, and wouldn’t normally get a mention in this monthly post, I use it to demonstrate again that just because you’ve celebrated something (New Year) you can’t assume that other people you work with on an international team won’t be celebrating the same thing on a different date, and in a different way.

I don’t usually cover regional holidays in this round up, but it is worth mentioning Australia’s Canberra Day/ Southern Australia on Monday 10 March – a public holiday marking the naming of the capital, followed by lots of events across the  week – not least because it affects our own team.

Keep an eye on our Twitter feed (@GlobalInteg) for some of the other festivals that might interrupt your work, including the Noche de brujas (Night of the Witches), celebrated in parts of Mexico, and Las Fallas in Valencia Spain (a massive festival of fire). Although neither are an official holiday, expected some jaded colleagues.

I can’resist noting here as well to keep an eye on our blog and social spaces during March as we build up to our official birthday. We’ll be 20 years old on April 1 – a lot has changed in that time!

Why Not….?

With so much happening, Worldwide, it really is impossible to cover every festival or national holiday that may affect your work, especially when you get down to a local level. If you work with international teams, or remotely, why not ask your colleagues when they’ll be taking time off and what for?

And if you’re taking a holiday or celebrating something big this month, don’t forget to let work colleagues in other countries know in advance – you’ll look organized,  and they’ll be able to factor it into their own schedules and  won’t be surprised by a lack of response while you’re away from your desk.

For help and training to work and lead in a global environment, you can  our Global Working page may also be useful.

(And if you are celebrating, we wish that the day brings you everything you hope for, and more.)

About the author:

Claire Thompson Claire has a background in PR and communications, and has worked in the UK and abroad for many years. Within Global Integration, she's the frontline for co-ordinating the blogging, social media, posting and general digital magic that team members ask for support with. It keeps her busy - she loves it! Google+ Profile: .

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