For many, the end of the year is full of traditions. Some say it is the most wonderful time of the year. The whole world takes on a magic glow, people seem merrier and in the Northern hemisphere, the winter including artificial lights somehow feels as if it is cozier. Whether you are celebrating a religious festival, like Hanukkah or Christmas, or a more secular occasion, you are sure to have your own selection of traditions, rituals or customs that make the holiday season and life in general so special. Christmas is only one of the traditions and there are several remarkable events happening around the world.

For instance, Ligligan Parul Sampernandu (Giant Lantern Festival) is held each year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve in the city of San Fernando. The festival attracts spectators from all over the country and across the globe. Eleven barangays or villages take part in the festival and competition is fierce as everyone pitches in trying to build the most elaborate lantern. Originally, the lanterns were simple creations around half a meter in diameter, made from papel de hapon (Japanese origami paper) and lit by a candle. Today, the lanterns are made from a variety of materials and have grown to around six meters in size. They are illuminated by electric bulbs that sparkle in a kaleidoscope of patterns.

Or what to think of Gävle Goat in Sweden. Since 1966, a 13-meter-tall Yule Goat has been built in the center of Gävle’s Castle Square for the Advent, but this Swedish Christmas tradition has unwittingly led to another tradition of sorts: people trying to burn it down. Since 1966 the Goat has been successfully burned down 29 times and the most recent destruction was in 2016.

Austria shows the evil Santa Claus with Krampus. Japan is not doing so much with Christmas but has a Kentucky Fried Christmas Dinner. The Icelandic have the Yule Lads. Perhaps one of the most unorthodox Christmas Eve traditions can be found in Norway, where people hide their brooms. It is a tradition that dates back centuries when people believed that witches and evil spirits came out on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride on. To this day, many people still hide their brooms in the safest place in the house to stop them from being stolen.

The US has, amongst other things, the Lighting of National Hanukkah Menorah, Washington D.C.  If you want to have a rolling Christmas, you better go to Caracas, Venezuela. Every Christmas Eve, the city’s residents head to church in the early morning – nothing special – but, for some reason, they do so on roller skates. This unique tradition is so popular that roads across the city are closed to cars so that people can skate to church in safety, before heading home for the less-than-traditional Christmas dinner of tamales, a wrap made from cornmeal dough and stuffed with meat and then steamed. Colombia has the Day of the Little Candles, where Toronto Canada is celebrating Cavalcade of Lights.

Besides the end of the year traditions, each country has its own, sometimes very strange customs. They may appear a little odd to some, but to others, they are part of their history and heritage. The US recently celebrated Thanksgiving Day followed by Black Friday, Ciber Monday and #Giving Tuesday.

Have you ever heard of the popular Swedish drinking game pen-in-bottle? Do you know what Jarping is? Or the reason why a bunch of people choose to hurl themselves down a steep hill in pursuit of a large wheel of cheese each year? There are various flavors of celebrating carnival, but the one in Ivrea Italy is based on a locally famous Battle of the Oranges.

And what to think of 5 parties for 1 celebration? Wedding celebrations can involve five parties in some parts of the Middle East, beginning with the engagement party and ending with the wedding shower, seven days after the marriage.

You better take along your umbrella if you’re in Poland on Śmigus Dyngus, also known as Wet Monday. Śmigus Dyngus is an opportunity to stage the ultimate water fight. Held each year on Easter Monday in Poland and Ukraine, participants blast each other with water to celebrate Easter.

Finger-pulling is no laughing matter in the Alps. Finger wrestling was once used to settle disputes but is now a competition that is taken quite seriously by the contenders. The winner is the person who manages to pull the other contestant across the table, using only his or her finger! Contenders pick their digit carefully and subject it to rigorous training regimes involving crushing tennis balls and doing one finger pull-ups!

In the UK every Spring Bank Holiday near Gloucester sees the annual Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake take place. Participants line up in groups of about twenty to chase after a substantial wheel of cheese as it descends perilously down a steep incline. This “world-famous event” often results in injuries to onlookers, a great lump of cheese is quite a hazard when rolled down a hill at speed. Also, in the UK, jarping is a game where you try crack someone else’s boiled egg without cracking your own. This is very popular in North-East England and there’s even a World Jarping Championships in Peterlee, Durham, each Easter.

The ridiculous but fun pen-in-bottle drinking game in Sweden involves securing a pen on a length of string tied around one’s waist and then competing to be the first person to lower one’s pen into an empty bottle using one’s waist. Last but not least I’d like to mention Tomato craze in Spain: La Tomatina. It is a strange culture among the Valencians in Bunol where the biggest tomato fight that exists is held.

If you are interested to learn more on traditions by country you should check this page at Wikipedia. I don’t think the overview is complete, so you are invited to enrich the list with your own country’s traditions.

Exactly 4 years ago I wrote about Black Friday as well as a particular tradition we have in the Netherlands called Sinterklaas. This tradition is under significant pressure since it became controversial and you see a change in the way it celebrated. Is that a problem? Not really, at least that is what I think (and so does Olaf Tempelman, a Volkskrant journalist in an article on December 1, 2018). Spanish bullfighting, Australian dwarf tossing, Sinterklaas, each controversial tradition is subject to change or will eventually stop. As Woody Allen said in Deconstructing Harry: “Tradition is the illusion of permanence.” Some people may think that traditions exist for centuries in the same form. But if we look at Sinterklaas only a couple of decennia ago, Black Pete changed from somebody who scared the children to a children’s friend and catalyst of retail purchases. Even without being disputed for racism the metamorphose would have happened, but at a slower pace. And the fact that it now happens under full attention has the same effect as waking the sleeping dogs. A judge already concluded that Black Pete is unnecessary hurting black compatriots, but you cannot put a tradition in jail.

Traditions are hard to ban and result in recalcitrance. The British fox hunt was abandoned in 2004 in the Hunting Act. Even this year almost every Sunday costumed horsemen chase foxes and so are the little people still flying through the air in Australian pubs and even babies in Maharashtra India. Since traditions touch people’s emotions, it is hard to change them fast or forced, like that oil tanker turning. Traditions link to memories and the identity of a country or region. Cutting a tradition is different than stopping death penalties or compulsory military service.

Each tradition is unique, but the behavior of supporters is most often the same. Each tradition under fire results in dividing the community where the tradition exists. In that sense, Sinterklaas can be compared with the bullfighting in Castile and Catalonia Spain, where the entry of Sinterklaas is like the San Fermin festivities in Pamplona. People who are against bullfighting fight with fans which leads to injuries without any bull involved! The activism is having an effect though, since bullfighting became controversial. And so is Black Pete at Sinterklaas. Black Pete is slowly changing into various colored versions, like Rainbow Pete, Stroopwafel Pete or Soot Sweeper Pete as a non-controversial Pete, and that is fine. Francis Fukuyama described tradition as the cement of society. A non-controversial tradition is evolving with the community. A controversial tradition only survives in cleared or unruly versions. Instead of dwarf’s, ordinary people wearing helmets fly through the Australian pubs. Controversial traditions are doomed to evolve from mainstream to marginal, and once marginal they tend to be unrulier, hence the hooligans interfering the entry of Sinterklaas recently: the protectors surrounding the tradition.

Information technology has been around for a long, long time. As long as people have been around, information technology has been around because there were always ways of communicating through technology available at that point in time. The electronic information technology as we know it can be defined as the time since 1940. The term information technology in its modern sense first appeared in a 1958 article published in the Harvard Business Review. Certainly not a long tradition, but it has undergone some metamorphoses since then. The most recent metamorphose is the shift to cloud computing. Similar like company lifecycles, the lifecycle of traditions in Information technology are getting shorter. As you might have seen, we have changed the name of our company with the purpose of a longer lifecycle of the company.

The traditional brand of Dynamics Software has disappeared after 13 years! We have taken steps to further unite our brand into the HSO Group by becoming part of and changing the name to HSO Innovation. We have been an integral part of the HSO Group since the foundation of Dynamics Software in 2005. I received mixed responses to the announcement we have published on November 26, 2018. They varied from many congratulations to considering it might be the end of a business relation. I want to thank all that took the effort to respond and look forward in continuing the business with everyone.

Within Information Technology the use of business applications is a hard to compare tradition to the ones mentioned earlier on since they are only a couple of decennia old. But the tradition in business applications until recently has always been that they were installed at customers premises, leading to significant efforts to install and manage the applications. Microsoft betted their company on going 3 clouds since February 1, 2010, when Azure was first released. Azure was announced in October 2008, started with codename “Project Red Dog.” It is a different way of consuming business applications, not as a product, but as a service. This service includes more than just running the systems on somebody else’s computer. Microsoft has calculated in that they might lose some of the customers who want to continue to work on premise. We also calculated in that we run the risk that some partners don’t like our name change. But as I wrote in the press release: “The name will change, but the essence of the way we work will stay the same. Our customers, partners and our employees should benefit from the strategic positioning of HSO Innovation as part of the HSO Group. HSO Innovation today is present on all continents with the support of its Dynamics Apps channel. With this strategic update, we aim to grow market share and extend our footprint on these continents by adding value with new innovation services.”

During the coming holiday season, our thoughts turn gratefully to those who have made our success possible. We have always deeply valued our relationship. We are looking forward to continuing our relationship with you. Enjoy your traditions.

Kind regards,

Eric Veldkamp
on behalf of HSO Innovation