Food, Money, and Travel Among the Top Ways First-, Second-, and Third-Generation Americans Show Holiday Love

- Whether it’s Seven Fishes or pierogies, holiday meals across America pack an international punch 

- Forty-five percent of Gen Z with international connections are cooking up special holiday recipes, while more than three-quarters (75%) of millennials will be able to visit family and friends abroad during the holiday season

- Over 2 in 5 Americans (43%) with immigrant/expat origin will send or receive money from abroad as a holiday gift 

December 11, 2023, NEW YORK, NY — The holiday season is packed full of events, traditions, and quality time with loved ones. To shed light on the holiday plans of first, second, and third-generation Americans, Wise, the global technology company and international money account, commissioned new research to dive into the unique ways folks are staying connected with family, culture, and heritage this year.

The research polled over 2,000 adults nationwide with immigrant/expat origin through research agency Censuswide, and insights revealed food is still at the heart of holiday celebrations. Over one-third (34%) of respondents said they cook a special dish during the holiday season that specifically connects them with their native country and culture. Gen Z (age 16-24) is the keenest to cook, with nearly half (45%) reporting they have a specific and sentimental dish they like to whip up this time of year. 

From Seven Fishes (hello, “The Bear”) to baklava, pierogies to pasta, and more ways to cook cabbage than you thought possible (souped, stewed, and stuffed!) the survey revealed an array of international dishes that taste like home. An overwhelming 91% of those who said they plan to cook a special dish this season report feeling a deeper connection to culture thanks to their chosen recipes, making the kitchen a profound place of cultural preservation and shared memories.

Connection extends from dinner table to dance floor 

Awakening dormant taste buds isn’t the only way Americans with ties abroad are choosing to stay connected to their cultures, with respondents also noting they will be participating in other festive and fun activities to celebrate the season. Folks plan to tune in to music sung in their native language (44%), go dancing at venues related to their culture (25%), and watch films and TV shows in their mother tongue (41%) to keep spirits bright. Nearly one-third will attend specially curated cultural events (32%) and/or faith-based events (31%) in holiday observance.

When it comes to staying connected to family and friends, video calling was the most popular means of staying in touch overall (43%), and was most favored by second-generation Americans (47%). Catering to those friends and family whose love language is receiving gifts, 37% of respondents will send presents to loved ones via mail, with 27% choosing to specifically purchase gifts from abroad. 

And who says you can’t send yourself a little something? Almost one-quarter (23%) of respondents will buy similar comforts from abroad for themselves. 

Sharing the dough (the green kind) 

Physical presents aren’t the only gifts being shared this holiday season, as sending money abroad is another popular way to stay close to those living across borders. Over one-quarter (27%) of respondents report they will send money abroad as a gift, and 27% predict they will be gifted money from abroad from someone special. 

But how they send and receive money internationally matters, and it’s clear that fast, transparent, low-cost, and convenient international payments are definitely on the wishlist this holiday season: 86% of respondents find the speed of the transfer important, with payment transparency (84%) and how much they’ll pay in fees (80%) close behind. 

Reflecting on the research findings, Ankita Rachel D’Mello, Senior Product Manager at Wise, said: 

“This research highlights the myriad ways Americans are embracing their roots and prioritizing connections this holiday season. These insights underscore the importance of seamlessly bridging borders and connecting to loved ones near and far. 

“However, connection too often comes at a price. At Wise, we believe sending and receiving money internationally should be as easy as sending an email or sharing a family recipe. We are committed to providing fast, cheap, transparent, and convenient international payments that facilitate genuine connection across borders — not only when our holiday spirits are high, but year round.” 

Presence as the ultimate present

Presents and money aside, some Americans simply are the gift this holiday season. An impressive 63% of respondents are able to travel abroad this holiday season to visit family and friends. Millennials (age 25-44) are the most likely to be able to make the trip in person, with 3 in 4 (75%) racking up air miles to reunite with loved ones. 

However, local connections are not forgotten, with over half of respondents (53%) opting for gatherings with friends and family nearby. Notably, first-generation Americans are less likely to choose local celebrations (36%) than the second- (51%) and third-generation Americans (58%). This shows that while connection to heritage remains important across the board, later generations more generally value their communities in the U.S. as a source of connection over the holidays.

This holiday season, Americans of all generations will come together in a tapestry of ways to celebrate diverse traditions and strengthen familial and cultural bonds. Whether near or far, the essence of this holiday season lies in a celebration of the foods, faces, and places that feel like home.

Research methodology

The research was conducted by Censuswide, with 2,006 US adults (of immigrant/expat origin who recognise as being 1st, 2nd or 3rd generation migrants/immigrants), with 250 respondents per California, Texas, Florida (501), New York and 1006 respondents in the rest of the US between 14.11.2023 - 21.11.2023.

Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

About Wise

Wise is a global technology company, building the best way to move money around the world. With the Wise account people and businesses can hold over 40 currencies, move money between countries and spend money abroad. Large companies and banks use Wise technology too; an entirely new cross-border payments network that will one day power money without borders for everyone, everywhere. However you use the platform, Wise is on a mission to make your life easier and save you money.

Co-founded by Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus, Wise launched in 2011 under its original name TransferWise. It is one of the world’s fastest growing, profitable technology companies and is listed on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker, WISE.

16 million people and businesses use Wise globally, which processes £9 billion in cross-border transactions every month, saving customers around £1.5 billion a year.

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