Grandfather Frost, Santa Claus and Papai Noel

Weinheim. December 19, 2012. Two Freudenberg associates and an associate's son from different cultural traditions report on the names used for the bearer of gifts and how Christmas is celebrated in their countries. Associates from 58 countries and a variety of different cultures work under the umbrella of the Freudenberg Group, enriching the company with their diversity. In Russia, they have Grandfather Frost, in North America Santa Claus and in Brazil Papai Noel - there are many names for these traditional figures. Grandfather Frost wears blue and white when bringing gifts in Russia while the colors of his clothes in North America and Brazil are red and white. As a symbolic figure he has been depicted as a plump and friendly old man with a long white beard in most countries since the beginning of the 20th century.

"On Christmas Eve, we go to church in the afternoon. Following the service, we have a meal with friends and family," reports Dawn McNabb, who works as a controller for Freudenberg Nonwovens in North America. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband, who is a general manager with Freudenberg, three children and the family dog. "Normally, the Christmas meal consists of beef, mashed potatoes, fresh bread and vegetables. Then the traditional Christmas stockings are hung over the fireplace to wait for Santa Claus. Before the children go to bed, they put cookies and milk for Santa in front of the fireplace, as well as carrots for the reindeer. On Christmas morning, the children always wake up very early as they are excited and want to unpack their presents. They are still wearing their pajamas when they empty their Christmas stockings and unpack their presents. For Christmas breakfast on December 25, we have pancakes, bacon and fruit. Traditionally, my children bake a gingerbread house every year and decorate it with icing and candy. In mid-December, we bake several different types of Christmas cookies. Te favorites include gingerbread, sugar and peanut butter cookies.

"We celebrate Christmas twice with the family, because I have both German and Russian grandparents," says Oksana Levina-Metzger, who works in internal sales with Freudenberg Sealing Technologies in Weinheim. With my German grandparents, we decorate the tree on December 24 and have Christmas dinner with roast meat and potatoes. Following dinner, the presents are unpacked. With my Russian grandparents, we celebrate on December 31 because the Russian church still uses the Gregorian calendar. On New Year's Eve, Grandfather Frost comes into the house with his granddaughter Snegurochka (the Snow-Maiden) and places the gifts under the Christmas tree. The Christmas celebrations focus on the meal. The guests arrive at about 6 o'clock in the evening and celebrations continue into the night. There are several salads and main dishes, a variety of vegetables and fruit preserves. and deserts such as biscuits, honey cake and other cakes. My favorites are little dough pouches filled with ground meat together with the spicy tomato and garlic sauce of my mother. And Plov is simply a must. It is a traditional rice dish with lamb, carrots and onions. We eat our Christmas dinner in special clothes taking up the motto of the coming year. As 2013 is the year of the snake, we will be wearing dazzling golden clothes."

"Christmas at almost 30°C? That was an entirely new experience for me. When I think of Christmas Eve, I think of snow, Christmas biscuits and a Christmas tree with festive decorations. Instead, I had sun, sand and sea in Brazil," reports Fabian Habel, talking about his 2011 Christmas experience. Fabian, whose mother works for EagleBurgmann, spent Christmas with the Alvarenga family in Brazil on the Freudenberg Group's TANNER youth exchange program. "When I woke up on Christmas morning, I did not smell the sweet scent of freshly baked biscuits, as would be the case in Germany, but I was woken up by the first rays of the sun dancing gently around the tip of my nose. After breakfast, we went to see the family's grandparents by bus. Then we had lunch with Brazilian turkey and started to exchange presents." The children in Brazil believe that Father Christmas - Papai Noel - distribute presents throughout the world on Christmas Eve. He comes in through the open window and places the gifts in shoes. The boys in my host family gave me some fantastic presents: a towel in the Brazilian national colors and my first pair of flip-flops. After we had played football, we went down to the beach together and took a dip in the warm sea."