Cultural Awareness of Foreign Holidays from Around the World

Around the world, people coexist in countries with those of various ethnic and national backgrounds. With diversity comes the different customs and holidays celebrated by different peoples. 

That’s why we at Pollfish decided to zero in on how people in the United States and different nations understand and view foreign holidays. After all, migration has been on the rise since the 1960s in America and other parts of the world.

Despite Covid, world migration has seen a sharp increase in the past 20 years, with 281 million people living outside their country of origin in 2020, compared with 173 million in 2000.

What’s more is that global migration has surpassed the world population, in terms of increasing faster. The number of global migrants is rising slightly faster than the world’s population, representing 3.3% of all people today, up from 2.6 % in 1960.

As such, we ran a study using global surveys on cultural awareness of foreign holidays around the world, questioning respondents on holidays from other cultural and religious backgrounds, along with their own. You can see the full results of our Cultural Awareness of Foreign Holidays survey here.

The Pollfish Methodology for the Holiday Cultural Awareness Study

Using the Pollfish online survey platform, which offers global market research and global support, we set up a survey across 4 countries: the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and China. The study surveyed 300 people in each country, which included 1,200 respondents in total

The study was split 50/50 in terms of gender, whereas other categories, such as ethnicity, education, career, marital status and others weren’t assigned quotas. Instead, we wanted to understand how people within these countries understood and viewed foreign holidays collectively.   

Which Domestic Holidays Are Most Important

Before we delve into cultural awareness of holidays belonging to different cultures, we quizzed our respondents on those of their own, asking them about which holidays and festivals are important to their culture.  

Across all 4 countries, Christmas took the number one spot at 76.33% of all respondents. Thanksgiving came in at the second-highest position, at 42.75%. US respondents had the highest percentage of votes for Christmas, at 86%, pointing to respondents valuing it the most out of the other three countries. 

In China, the results were slightly different, with Independence Day and Thanksgiving tying as the number one answer, with 54.33% of the vote, narrowly beating Christmas by only 0.33%. 

Victory Day after a certain war maintained the lowest position as a specific holiday across all countries, with “other” being the only option to receive fewer votes, except in Germany. In Germany, Victory Day was the least popular answer, at 6.33%, receiving even fewer votes than the “other” option.

Victory Day had the highest number of votes in the United States and the United Kingdom, at 17.33% and 17%, respectively. In the follow-up question to this one, which asked those who choose Victory Day to specify, most respondents didn’t signify a specific Victory Day

Instead, their responses explained why they chose it, such as “it is important for history” and “it is exciting when a nation has victory after a war.” A few responses directly called out the country they were referring to for their Victory Day, with mentions of Russia and India. 

These results show that while Victory Day is important to some, the main holidays of a country always take center stage of importance.

View on the Commonalities of Holidays Celebrated Around the World

While there are myriads of holidays celebrated around the world, we sought to find out what they share — particularly people’s perceptions on what they have in common. As such, we asked our respondents what holiday celebrations around the world have in common. 

Collectively, the top two answers were celebrating with food and feasts, at 75.08% and spending time with loved ones at 66.25%. Dancing and parties took the third collective spot, at 41.42%, followed by worshipping a god at 39.42%, alcohol consumption at 37.33%, worshipping a key historical figure at 24.92% and “other” as the last position, at under 5%. 

Food and feasts had the largest number of votes in the US, at 87%, followed by the UK at 79%. China had the lowest votes for this option, at under ⅔ of the votes with 63.33%. However, this was still the number one answer across all the countries. 

Spending time with loved ones was the second most popular answer across every individual country, showing the universal importance of being with those you love during key events and celebrations.  

The United States and China scored the highest for worshipping a god, at 45% and 40.33%, respectively, highlighting the significance of religion and religious communities in both countries. This is despite the fact that deity worship came out as the 5th and 4th most popular answer, respectively, in both of these countries.

Worshipping a key historical figure was nearly in last place, topping only the “other” option in every country, except China. There, this option beat out dancing and partying by 4%, as worshipping a historical figure reeled in 38.67% of the vote, whereas dances and parties got 34.76%. 

This points to higher importance placed on people with historical significance in China than in the three other countries, where this option scores last, save for the “other” option.

Cultural Awareness of Foreign Holidays Celebrated Domestically and Abroad

We sought to find how acquainted people are with foreign holidays, both of those that are celebrated domestically — but from foreign countries and different cultures — and those celebrated abroad.

First, we asked our respondents, approximately how many holidays they know about that are celebrated in their country but by other cultures. We used a ranking question, in which each multiple-choice option requires a ranking of 1-5, with 1 signifying respondents’ top answer (or first choice) and 5 as the bottom.

Across all countries, over 8 foreign holidays received the most votes for the number 1 ranking, totaling 316 votes. 1-3 holidays came in as the second most popular answer for the number 1 ranking, at 265 votes across all countries. This data shows that people across these countries are, in fact, aware of a handful of foreign holidays celebrated in their countries, with a large chunk being aware of several (over 8).

However, a different narrative comes into play when you take the third most popular collective answer for the number 1 spot: none, which received 238 votes collectively. Although 1-3 holidays and 4-6 holidays had larger votes for the second spot, “none” coming in at third place for the number 1 ranking shows a significant proportion of the international population that is completely unaware of foreign holidays celebrated in their own country.  

To further observe cultural awareness of foreign holidays around the world, we asked the following: approximately how many holidays do you know about that are only celebrated in other countries?

Once again, “more than 8” received the number one vote collectively for the number one spot (and all in all) with 335 votes. However, the second most popular answer out of all and for the number 1 ranking, is “none,” with 304 international votes. This marks a considerable amount of ignorance regarding holidays celebrated in foreign countries only.

The United States had the most votes for “none” as the top answer, with 100 votes. Germany had the second-largest number of votes for “none” as the number one answer, with 90 votes, followed by the UK with 85. China had the lowest amount of votes for “none,” at 29. This indicates a higher level of interest in foreign customs and cultures in China than in the West. 

However, although many Americans and Western Europeans do not know about foreign holidays celebrated exclusively in foreign countries, another narrative takes hold of the data. This is because “more than 8” received 80 videos from American respondents, coming in as the second most popular answer in total and for the number one ranking. 

More than 8 was also the second most popular answer in the UK, with 78 votes. Germany placed the highest number of votes for over 8 holidays, at 97.

This further proves the twofold awareness of foreign holidays: on one hand, a large portion of the populations studied in this survey is highly culturally aware of foreign holidays, given that they know over 8, while another is largely unaware of foreign holidays, especially those celebrated abroad only

The Importance of Foreign Holidays

Finally, we asked respondents to reveal the importance they place on foreign holidays, that is, holidays that have origins in countries outside of theirs, but that are also celebrated in their countries. 

Additionally, foreign holidays refer to all holidays from abroad, including those that the respondents may not know are celebrated in their country or are not celebrated in their countries at all

Our first inquiry into this topic came in the form of the following question: how important is it for you to understand the holidays and rituals of other cultures?

Across three countries, the number one answer was “very important,” pointing to tolerance towards different cultures and their practices. This sentiment was the highest among US respondents, as their top answer was “extremely important,” at 37%.

Given that the US has more immigrants than any country in the world, this brings things into perspective. America is known as a melting pot and even referred to as “the land of immigrants.” As such, it places high importance on understanding the holidays and rituals of outside cultures. 

The popularity of the answers followed the pattern of those choosing importance to have higher votes, while those with lower ones, at the lower end, followed the notion of American tolerance.  

The same pattern followed across the 3 other countries, with the exception of “very important” being in the lead. This points to a globalizing world, one that’s becoming more open to understanding the ways of foreigners. 

The next question we asked in regards to this topic seeks whether the respondents are willing to follow through on their importance of understanding the holidays and rituals of others. The question was: do you intend on becoming more culturally aware of foreign holidays?

The top answer across all countries was “yes, I intend to be more culturally aware of all holidays.” Once again, the United States came in with the highest number of respondents choosing this option out of all the other countries, with 56% of the total vote. Interestingly enough, the second most popular answer was “No, because it isn’t important to me,” at 11%.

This juxtaposition shows that although most of the respondents (over half) seek to be more culturally aware of foreign holidays, a small but not insignificant portion isn’t interested in this. Some Americans simply aren’t interested in other cultures’ holidays, even if they occur in their country.

The United Kingdom and Germany had similar responses, in that the second most popular was “yes, but only the ones celebrated in my country,” at 19% and 17% respectively. The second most popular answer among respondents from China was “yes, but only the ones celebrated in countries besides mine,” at 17.33%.

These narratives show that European respondents are slightly more interested in learning about holidays aside from their own if they’re celebrated in their countries, whereas Chinese respondents are more interested in learning about the holidays celebrated in countries aside from theirs

This can be due to various reasons, a key reason is that the UK and Germany have more immigrants than China. As such, more foreign holidays are celebrated in their countries than in China. 

Understanding Other Cultures

The Cultural Awareness of Foreign Holidays from Around the World survey has shown an overall desire to understand holidays from different cultures in three key regions of the world: North America, Europe and Asia.

As the world becomes more globalized and more connected due to the Internet, the awareness of other cultures, along with cultural trends will become even more readily available and widespread. 

When it comes to conducting global research, the key is to be able to use a platform with various capabilities, along with making it easy to create surveys. As such, you should opt for an online survey platform. 

The best-in-class platform uses random device engagement (RDE) sampling, to reach customers in their natural digital environments, instead of pre-recruiting them. This removes social pressures in the surveys and will cut back on survey bias.

You should also use a mobile-first platform, since mobile dominates the digital space and no one wants to take surveys in a mobile environment that’s not built for mobile devices.  

Your online survey platform should also offer artificial intelligence and machine learning to remove low-quality data, disqualify low-quality data and offer a broad range of survey and question types.

Additionally, it should also allow you to survey anyone.  As such, you’ll need a platform with a reach to millions of consumers, along with one that offers the Distribution Link feature. This feature will allow you to send your survey to specific customers, instead of only deploying them across a vast network. 

With an online survey platform with all of these capabilities, you’ll be able to collect data on cultural awareness and virtually any topic.