What’s your favorite holiday tradition?

As Greater Des Moines’ business community becomes more diverse, so does the answer to that question, as we found from talking with a few professionals with various ethnic backgrounds.

For Nannette Rodriguez, president of VivaMedia and a native of Puerto Rico, her family’s celebration of Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day on Jan. 6 is almost like observing Christmas twice.

“It’s a lot like Christmas, but I think Three Kings’ Day is a lot more family-oriented and not so commercialized,” Rodriguez said, who said the celebrations both involve family get-togethers, food and fun. Just as children leave cookies and milk for Santa, Puerto Rican children gather grass from the fields and leave it in shoeboxes to feed the wise men’s camels, she said.

Kerty Nilsson Levy said one of her favorite traditions is enjoying a homemade batch of gloog, a traditional Swedish hot toddy made with red wine, cinnamon and whiskey.

“It heats up the body; it’s fun,” said Levy, who is president of the Downtown Community Alliance. “And rice pudding is big in Sweden; I love that at holiday time.”

When her children are older, she plans to introduce them to Santa Lucia Day, a holiday celebrated in Sweden on Dec. 13. In that tradition, the children dress in white robes and bring breakfast in bed to their parents.

Because her husband is Jewish, they celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah, she said. “We’re still trying to figure out what celebrations we will have,” she said.

Shoba Sivasankar, a scientist with Pioneer Hi-Bred International who is from India, comes from a province that is “about one-third Christians, one-third Hindus and one-third Muslims,” she said. “So at home we would be celebrating all three (during the year).”

She and a group of about 100 people who emigrated from the same province usually reserve a church hall for a Christmas celebration that includes Christian songs as well as traditional Indian foods and dances. The activities for the kids include a visit from Santa and a short Christmas play.

“Religiously, I’m a Hindu,” she said “It’s just an excuse to get together with friends and family.”

Though Melanie Vaccaro and her husband indulge their 4-year-old daughter with Christmas gifts, the family’s big celebration doesn’t come until the Chinese New Year, which comes on Jan. 29.

In China, where she and her husband have both lived, “there were all kinds of fireworks; it filled up the entire sky,” said Vaccaro, a member of the Young Professionals Connection.

To celebrate the Chinese New Year in Iowa, the Vaccaros have 20 boxes of sparklers ready to go in the kitchen cabinet, she said. They also like to enjoy a big traditional Chinese dinner, and the children are given little red envelopes with money inside.

“A lot of my friends in Japan celebrate Christmas right now,” said Vaccaro, who is of Japanese descent. “It’s kind of weird. It’s mostly the younger generation that gets into it, that follow western trends.”