By Sophie Hendry

Most of us can identify with the well-known Wizzard chorus: “oh I wish it could be Christmas everyday”. That’s because Christmas is a time that calls for joy, family and, of course, presents! 

But what if Christmas isn’t your culture’s main gift-giving celebration? You might feel pretty left out by all these ads you see around, right?

Here at Merkle | Periscopix, we feel that no-one being forgotten, and that includes your consumers. So, if you’re an e-commerce retailer with an international presence, we’ve made it easy for you and laid out a few alternative cultural traditions we feel you should probably know about.

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Move over “Santa Baby”, there’s a new hunk in town

You heard me right. Don’t worry, he’s still got a great white beard - we know that makes you weak at the knees – and his name is Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas for the Germans, Saint Nicolas for the French speakers).

When: On the evening of the 5th or the morning of the 6th of December

Where: The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and parts of France

The Short Story:

Sinterklass Riding Into Holland

At some point in mid-November, Sinterklaas arrives by boat to Holland from his home country of Spain, accompanied by his horse and his helpers. During the two weeks between this arrival and his “Feast Day” (5th December), he rides across rooftops at night, listening through chimneys for good children and leaving treats in their shoes. Finally, on his Feast Day, he is said to deliver bigger presents to good children and coal to those that have been naughty.


What it means in terms of gifting:

You may not have heard of him before but he can be a pretty big deal (bigger than Christmas in some instances) so you really don’t want to miss out on such a major gifting event. In the two weeks prior to the 5th, small presents are exchanged. Think trinkets, stocking fillers and candy. Then on Sinterklaas’ Feast Day the larger gifts are given.

Google trends (as seen below) indicate that online gift searching starts around beginning of October – so if you're an an e-commerce retailer in Europe, and if it’s relevant, don’t forget about the magnitude of Sinterklaas! Specific keyword lists and ads are highly recommended.

Google Trend Sinterklass

“All I want for Christmas, is You”… And the Three Wise Men

The Three Wise Men, or the Three Kings, are the late comers to the party. This holiday also represents the end of a long and arduous journey from the Middle East to Spain.

When: 6th January

Where: Spain and parts of South America

The Short Story:

3 Wise Men

Having delivered gold, frankincense and myrrh to the newborn baby Jesus in Bethlehem, the Three Kings set off for Spain on camel back. They reach their destination where they find children’s shoes on every doorstep waiting for them and the gifts they bring. The story goes that the children who have behaved well in the past year get beautiful gifts, whilst the naughty ones get coal.

What it means in terms of gifting:

Although this event is widely celebrated across the Western World, it is of particular significance in Spain and parts of South America. In those areas, the 6th January can be a greater gifting occasion than Christmas itself, so don’t miss out on it! If you are advertising in those countries, we recommend keeping your locally relevant gifting activity running up until the 5th January, and creating Three Kings gifting specific keyword lists and ads.

“On the 12th Day of Christmas”, or the 8th Day of Hanukkah

An estimated 20 million people around the world are said to be connected to Judaism - that’s equivalent to 1/3rd of the UK’s population! Whilst not all will abide by the Jewish traditions, or forgo Christmas completely, it is important to remember another festive winter celebration: Hanukkah!

When: It changes every year according to the Jewish calendar, so keep informed!

Where: Globally, but very prominent in the US, France, Canada, the UK, Germany & Ukraine.

The Short Story:

Hanukkah Menorah

Around 2,500 years ago, Syrian King Antiochus tried to make the Jewish people worship Greek gods in their temple. However, a rebellion managed to re-capture the country from the Syrians, and the Jewish people were then able to rededicate their temple to God. They did so by lighting a candle and, despite only having enough oil to last one day, the flame remained alight for eight. Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, now commemorates this miracle with the lighting of one candle of a special menorah every night for eight nights.


What it means in terms of gifting:

Whilst it is not the main Jewish traditional gift-giving event of the year, Hanukkah is a special time when small and affordable presents are often exchanged on every night. As such, if your seasonal range includes small gifts and stocking fillers, we’d again wholeheartedly encourage you to create specific keyword lists and ads - we expect competition and CPCs to be low.

“Merry Christmas Darling” … To meeeeee

Single’s Day: not quite so traditional, not quite so celebratory, but HUGE. And when we say huge, we mean H.U.G.Eputs-little-tiny-Black-Friday-to-shame kinda huge. It is the world’s single biggest online shopping day of the year, and it happens every 11th November in China.

When: 11th November

Where: China, Hong Kong, Taiwan (for now…)

The Short Story:

Exactly as the name indicates, “Single’s Day” started as an anti-Valentine’s Day celebration back in the 1990s. Because think about it: 11th November. 11/11. 1 1 1 1. One, one, one, one. All about that singledom! And you guessed it, the aim was to encourage singletons to self-gift. It has since spawned into a day where everyone, regardless of their relationship status, buys themselves a little something nice.

What it means in terms of gifting:

This year, the grossing expectations are through the roof (we’re talking above $20 billion). So, if you’re an e-commerce retailer delivering to those countries, we hope you’re already on it. If not, get building now.

We appreciate that cultures around the world are innumerable - and acknowledge that through this article we’ve only dipped our toes in the ocean of traditional celebrations that exist. However, we hope this has helped provide some knowledge around the more significant winter gifting events of the year, and perhaps some guidance in building your strategy moving forward. 

If you have any further questions or insights to provide us with, please get in touch!

Image credits: Pixabay

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