Honoring local holidays is a U.S. diplomatic tradition

The world over, people enjoy holiday celebrations. Americans who live around the world while working at U.S. embassies and consulates honor local traditions as well as their own.

Whether it is in an official capacity or not, participating in festivities is a time-honored way to understand diverse cultures.

At U.S. diplomatic posts and cultural institutions, ambassadors and other leaders often let staff members off work to mark local holidays. In some cases, they host receptions or other events. Here are examples we gathered at the end of 2019:

New Delhi

People dancing for Holi, covered in multicolored dye (U.S. Embassy New Delhi)
Holi, the Hindu spring festival of colors, is celebrated with gusto at U.S. Embassy New Delhi. (U.S. Embassy New Delhi)


Five men lined up for picture in front of Nowruz decorations (U.S. Embassy Kabul)
Nowruz, an important Central Asian holiday, is observed by U.S. Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan, which welcomes in the new year in the photo above. (U.S. Embassy Kabul)

Hong Kong

Dragon boat race (Derek Ping/U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau)
U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau rows in the championships during the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong. (Derek Ping/U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau)


Adults with students posing for a group photograph (U.S. Embassy Ghana)
U.S. Embassy Ghana staff members with students after offering zakat, customary during Ramadan. Food packs were given to two schools in Accra. (U.S. Embassy Ghana)


Plate of fruit on leaves (U.S. Consulate General Toronto)
Serving traditional foods, U.S. Consulate General Toronto co-hosted its first Rosh Hashanah reception with the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center at the consul general’s residence. (U.S. Consulate General Toronto)


Man reading holiday cards at a desk (U.S. Consulate General Krakow)
Former U.S. Consul General Walter Braunohler reads Christmas cards. Consulate staff members join staff members from other foreign consulates in caroling at the Bishop’s Palace. (U.S. Consulate General Krakow)