International Business: International businesses must plan for regional holidays

Published: Friday, Jan. 7 2011 7:00 a.m. MST

Chances may be slim that employees will try to deceive you and exploit your unfamiliarity with foreign holidays, but it is still prudent to learn what significant holidays appear on international calendars. Yes, "there is an app for that" at World-Holidays.net. Other helpful online sources include TimeAndDate.com, EarthCalendar.net, aGlobalWorld.com and even Wikipedia. However, these calendars should only be a starting point. Be sure to consult directly with colleagues abroad to get the full scoop.

Finally, if you are working abroad, take the opportunity to learn about the importance of the local holidays and enjoy them. One of the most memorable holidays I have celebrated outside the United States was the Festa de Sao Joao in Porto, Portugal, where participants take to the streets playfully banging each other on the head with plastic toy hammers. The festivities, which also included concerts in every plaza and fireworks near the beach, were a wonderful surprise to me as a vacationing American, but they would have been very inconvenient if I had planned to work that night.

Businesses that plan appropriately for international holidays will make the best use of working days and will show proper respect for the local culture. Assess your own needs where you do business and investigate the holidays celebrated to protect yourself from falling victim to a sitcom-style joke.

What holidays have you found to be important or surprising while doing business in other countries?

Adam Wooten is director of translation services at Lingotek. He also teaches a course on translation technology at BYU. E-mail: awooten@lingotek.com . Follow him on Twitter at AdamWooten..

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