Cultural Holidays

Every year, the Erasmus Diversity & Inclusion Office celebrates diversity by paying attention to the cultural, national and religious holidays as celebrated by people at our university. Below you will find interviews with employees and students who talk about the special meaning of a holiday for them.

Celebrating Differences

We asked Rector Magnificus Rutger Engels what celebrating diversity means to him at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Chinese New Year

Meiyee Chow
Something that is typical to me about Chinese New Year are the red pockets. These are the small red envelopes with money, which you receive as kids from your parents. You put the envelope under your pillow when going to sleep and it will bring you luck for the coming year. 
Meiyee Chow
Student at Erasmus University Rotterdam
Meiyee Chow about Chinese New Year about Chinese New Year


Christmas is a Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. Its traditions vary from country to country. In many nations, people decorate a Christmas tree, there are Advent wreaths and Christmas stockings.

Veronika Norvaisaite
On Christmas Eve, we start dinner the moment we see the first star in the sky.
Veronika Norvaisaite
International Project Coordinator, USC Marketing & Communications
Read full interview about Veronika about Christmas

Day of the Dead

Day of the dead, or Dia de Muertos in Spanish, is a Mexican holiday that focuses on gathering and praying for and remembering those who have died and support their spiritual journey. It is celebrated by creating altars (‘ofrenda’) for the dead and offering food.

Carina Bravo Plancarte, RSM about Day of the dead
At the Institute for Housing and Development Studies, I saw this beautiful ‘ofrenda’ created by Mexican students and it put a smile on my face.
Carina Bravo Plancarte, Recruitment Manager, Rotterdam School of Management
Read the full interview about Carina about the Day of the dead

Coming Out Day

Coming Out Day is an annual LGBTQ+ awareness day. It was founded in the United States in 1988 and is now observed globally to celebrate coming out and raise awareness about civil rights and oppressive views of society. Recently, “coming out” also expanded to gender identities.

Donovan Liauw
To me, Coming Out Day is a day that raises awareness of people in the LGBTQ+ world and the need for them to feel able to be who they are.
Donovan Liauw
Student at Rotterdam School of Management
Read the full interview about Donovan about Coming Out Day

Moon Festival

The Moon Festival, or Mid-Autumn Festival, is a harvest festival celebrated by many people in Asia. It is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar during the full moon, when families come together to eat dinner and share Mooncakes.

Ou Lin, Financial Policy Analyst, Corporate Planning & Control
The idea behind the Moon Festival is to celebrate that year’s harvests and show gratitude, but now, family reunion has become a central theme.
Ou Lin
Financial Policy Analyst, Corporate Planning & Control
Read the full interview about Ou Lin about Moon Festival

Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu festival that is celebrated annually, centred on the tying of a sacred thread around the wrist as a form of protection. This is usually performed by sisters on their brothers. Raksha Bandhan means the bond of protection, love or care.

Dewi Ramdaras, student at Rotterdam School of Management
On this day, we create a bond with someone, saying ‘I am determined to protect you’.
Dewi Ramdaras
Student at Rotterdam School of Management
Read full interview about Dewi about Raksha Bandhan


Ramadan is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting. It lasts about 30 days. From dawn until sunset, Muslims fast and focus on doing good and charitable deeds.

Hafida Sallouf student at ESL
Especially during Ramadan, it’s important to take the time to figure out how you can help people around you.
Hafida Sallouf
Student at Erasmus School of Law
Read the full interview about Hafida about Ramadan


Vappu is a student festival, celebrated annually on 1 May. It marks the beginning of spring. It’s also celebrated as International Labour Day and is one of the biggest festivals of the year in Finland alongside Midsummer's Day and Christmas.

Dr. Tim de Mey
Three times a year, I return to Finland and one of those times is always 1 May 1st because I don’t want to miss Vappu.
Dr. Tim de Mey
Assistant Professor in Theoretical Philosophy, Erasmus School of Philosophy
Read the full interview about Dr. Tim de Mey

King´s Day

King´s Day (27 April) is a national holiday in the Netherlands, marking the King’s birthday. All over the country, people take part in Koningsdag wearing orange or red, white and blue clothing, visiting flea markets (vrijmarkt), concerts and local gatherings.

Foto Welmer de Groot
The wonderful thing about traditions is that they bring people together, make them proud of their community.
Welmer de Groot
Student at Erasmus Medical Center
Read the full interview about Welmer de Groot


Pesach or Passover (Jewish Easter) is an ancient feast that originated in the history of the people of Israel, commemorating the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt.

Foto Erin Chang
You’re supposed to lean back and enjoy the meal while considering the story and its meaning. In that regard, it’s quite a philosophical tradition.
Erin Chang
student Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication
Read full interview about Erin Chang

Brazilian Carnival

Brazilian Carnival (9 Feb – 14 Feb 2018) is an annual festival, marking the beginning of Lent (40 days before Easter). Large and small parades crowd the streets for the public to watch or participate in. Carnival is the most famous holiday in Brazil.

Daniel Maciel Biato
You wear a costume all year, but during Carnival you dress the way you are.
Daniel Maciel Biato
Student at Rotterdam School of Management
Read full interview about Daniel about Brazilian Carnival

New Year's Day

New Year's Day (1 January) is the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar and the most celebrated public holiday. The New Year is often greeted with fireworks. Other celebrations worldwide include parades, family time or annual dips in water.

Dr. Chris Müller
A special New Year’s Eve for me was in Berlin at the turn of the millennium. Even though it was -10 °C and terribly cold, it was like everyone kept each other warm by being together.
Dr Chris Müller
Senior Lecturer Life Sciences
Read full interview about Dr Chris Müller about New Year