Christmas in Cargo: How do modern-day Santas celebrate the holiday season?

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Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the busiest. For many of us, the flurry of last-minute Christmas shopping, errands, get-togethers and family reunions can add to the seasonal stress. 

But can you imagine what Christmas is like for those responsible for ensuring our presents are delivered on time?

There’s no busier place during Christmas (well, apart from the North Pole, of course), than cargo hubs across the globe. Cargo staff, or modern-day Santa Clauses as we like to call them, are the reason why we are all able to enjoy presents and festive feasts. 

There is a large-scale logistical process behind the scenes that occurs each Christmas that we often don’t think about. In particular, one cargo hub, located in a small corner of the world, is responsible for putting Christmas lunch on most of our tables. 

Air New Zealand Cargo teams up with New Zealand farmers and meat producers each year to  send nearly three million kilograms of meat to international markets, predominantly located in Europe and the US.

While New Zealand’s borders remain closed amid concerns about the Omicron variant, Air New Zealand Cargo’s team is still hard at work this Christmas, pulling out all the stops to find a way out of its little “cargo situation”.  (If you want to get more of that traveling Christmas spirit, check out aviation’s best Christmas adverts!)

There’s no doubt about it, cargo crews around the world are busiest during the holiday season. But how do they actually celebrate Christmas?

Well, it depends if they even celebrate the season. For cargo hubs located in regions where Christmas isn’t observed by the majority, such as Etihad Cargo in Abu Dhabi, it’s simply a matter of shift scheduling. 

A representative from the Etihad Cargo team in Abu Dhabi told AeroTime News that it makes sure that employees who celebrate Christmas are given time off, and are covered by staff who do not. That’s where the advantage of a multicultural team pays off!

In countries where Christmas is celebrated by the majority, celebrations tend to vary. At the DHL hub in Taiwan, a representative from the team told AeroTime that while Christmas is business as usual for employees, those who work during Christmas day are given special meals by the company as a sign of appreciation. The real celebrations, however, are done after the busy holiday season. The representative also added that since the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, DHL’s Taiwan hub has avoided holding large group gatherings in the workplace.

Cargo hubs around the world may have their own ways of celebrating Christmas, but one particular hub seems to thoroughly embrace the season. 

DHL’s global hub, located in Leipzig, Germany, certainly celebrates Christmas with good cheer. Germany has at least 14 different Christmas traditions, and the Leipzig hub celebrates a few of these.


image source: DHL Hub Leipzig

One of the most popular German traditions is the country’s famous Christmas markets, which attract tourists from all over the world. 

Prior to the pandemic, the DHL Leipzig hub even organized its own yearly Christmas market in the workplace, and they have the perfect venue for it. The global hub boasts 87,000 square meters of terminal space! 


Image source: DHL Hub Leipzig

The hub’s Christmas market served as an opportunity for colleagues to get together, buy presents for family and friends, and, most of all, enjoy warm, delicious Christmas treats. 

A representative from the hub told AeroTime that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they did not organize a Christmas market in 2020 and 2021. However, they made sure that the Christmas spirit remained alive by thinking of creative ways and alternate concepts to celebrate.

The hub also has its own festive traditions that everyone looks forward to.

Every year, DHL employees in Leipzig receive an ‘Adventskalender’, a special calendar used to count the days of Advent in anticipation of Christmas, filled with 24 treats. They receive it on December 1, and open a door to a surprise treat each day until December 25. 

This year, supervisors have also given presents to their respective teams in recognition of their hard work and commitment. 

Another tradition is for supervisors to give out chocolates on December 6, which marks the day of Nikolaus, a tradition based on the tale of a German bishop.

Some departments at the Leipzig hub also have their own special Christmas traditions such as an Ugly Sweater Day. Employees are also allowed and encouraged to decorate their workspaces with electric candle arches during the holiday season. 

For Christmas 2021, the Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig visited the DHL global hub and surprised everyone with a Christmas concert at the entrance to the building.

But it’s not just about having fun for Leipzig’s DHL Hub team. The hub also gives back by organizing and collecting presents from colleagues to be donated to local charity organizations such as animal homes, food shelters and orphanages. 

It’s good to know that, despite working long hours during the busiest time of the year, our modern-day Santas are able to celebrate Christmas. After all, the most wonderful time of the year is made even more magical by the hard work of cargo hubs across the globe. 

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