A complete integration in Mexico entails, among other things, reproducing certain Mexican behaviors at work. Following that principle will keep you from being isolated and missing many cultural and professional opportunities. The custom when entering the workplace in the morning is to greet each person working close to you (in the open space for instance). Every evening, you should always acknowledge everyone still in the office before leaving. It is basic courtesy from a Mexican point of view. Regardless of how you feel about your colleagues, whether you directly work with them or not, always greet them politely. It goes without saying that it will help you get to know everyone if you just started working. Moreover, you might discover interesting personalities, to get to know during work or after work. For the New Year, like anywhere in the world, best wishes are presented to colleagues and managers. A simple “Happy New Year” doesn’t exist in Mexico though! The abrazo, or hug, is expected, along with a conversation with each of your colleagues. It is very important to express your best wishes to your colleagues, but especially to their family. Mexicans always enquire about your children, family, your holidays and so on. They like it when you talk about yourself, your personal projects, your hobbies, your brother, aunt, grandfather, kids or any member of your family present during the holiday period! It is a little disconcerting to speak so much about yourself for most foreigners, but completely normal for a Mexican person! That is just how things are. Be aware that during the first day, and even the first week of the year, a lot of time will be spent socializing. You might consider that time “lost” but it will be given back to you through favors a lot more readily than if you rush into your office and isolate yourself to work from the first day of the New Year. In the days following the New Year, the Reyes Magos celebration will begin, at home and at work. The Wise Men have a singular importance (beyond the epiphany cake), and all families expect the celebration with excitement since they bring gifts to children too. In most companies, the HR department usually orders the traditional crown well in advance. In fact, all you will see in Mexican supermarkets for two weeks are crowns! It is a very important tradition followed by most people, including in the office. Most of your colleagues will eat the epiphany cake, and the one who finds the lucky charm will need to bring tamales for Candlemas, one month later. Tamales are a typical Mexican dish, made from a corn flour base. The dough is then spread out, in the shape of little crepes, on corn or banana leaves. The filling is either salty (meat, ragout) or sugary (fruits), is all wrapped up and steamed or cooked in stock. Not to worry, if you do get the lucky charm, you will be able to buy tamales on the street on the day of. Since they are a traditional dish, all street vendors sell them around Candlemas. Christmas and the Reyes Magos are certainly religious holidays, but they are also celebrated in the work place. Everyone participates, despite his or her level in the hierarchy. The Mexican joie de vivre makes any event a good cause for celebration. You will no doubt be invited to join. Take the time to truly and fully participate, you will then gain in efficiency, even if that might seem counter productive at first. Your Mexican colleagues are giving you the chance to integrate, so take it! Time will show you that you were right in doing so. Best wishes for your Mexican life! Translated by Florence Razé
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