I have to admit that I sometimes make the common America-centric mistake of thinking everyone else also celebrates OUR holidays. For example, in corresponding with a friend in England, and considering a visit at the end of November, I expressed my concern that the timing would interfere with their Thanksgiving plans.
“Our what plans?” was the response.
Oh. Right. So, like parents everywhere, I’ve tried to do better by my kids by helping them understand that the holidays they celebrate are not the only ones out there. Over the years, we’ve researched different religious and cultural holidays celebrated at this time of year, as well as different interpretations of historical holidays so they would understand the world outside their own experiences and know why they get those days of vacation from school.
I was pretty ignorant about other religions and cultures growing up. Once, in an attempt to be worldly, I wished a Jewish friend a “Happy Yom Kippur.” Yeah… No. “Happy Day of Atonement” is something of an oxymoron. Luckily, my family lives right outside Washington, D.C. in an area with a huge melting pot of beliefs. This means that my kids are exposed to a number of cultural celebrations and thanks to very diverse school system, my kids are just as familiar with Diwali and Ramadan as they are with Halloween and Christmas.
But back to my British friends. What do they celebrate in November? Mischief Night, Guy Fawkes Day (also known as Bonfire Night), Remembrance Sunday (which is similar to our Veterans Day), and Armistice Day. How many of those were you familiar with?
Luckily, a very recent issue of Faces takes an in-depth look at England – check it out to find out some fascinating tidbits about our friends across the pond. Each month Faces transports you and your kids to other countries in order to learn more about the fantastic diversity of customs, traditions, and cultures. In our increasingly globalized world, the need for cross-cultural understanding has never been more essential, even if it’s just to help them save face when it comes to the right holiday greeting.
Cricket Media Mama is now on a quest to better understand those generic “Bank Holidays” that the rest of the world seems to celebrate on a monthly basis, and wants to know how she can get a piece of that month-long vacation most of Europe seems to take.