Have you ever thought what you are doing to teach your children about their cultural heritage? If you moved back ‘home’ tomorrow, would your children understand what Halloween is, what ANZAC Day is, or what Idul Fitri really means?
Most likely, they would not understand unless you have made a real effort to teach them. This is something that I have been thinking about of late and want to share with you…
I am American yet my children were not born there, nor have they ever lived in the United States. Although they have a US passport, this does not make them American. One thing I realized early on was that it was up to me to ensure that they had some American cultural awareness (as my husband also is not American).
The first few years after moving to a foreign country I was upset during holiday time. Where were all the children in their cute Halloween costumes on October 31st? Who was going to sing with me on the 4th of July? How was I going to make my Thanksgiving Turkey if I couldn’t find a turkey?
1. Identify the holidays you want to celebrate.
2. Check if these holidays are international or just national:
* If international, normally you will have the day off;
* If it is an event only celebrated in your country you may have to plan to take the day off / have the children miss school if necessary; and
* If possible, try and visit your home country during this time so your children can see for themselves this special occasion
3. Eat customary dishes:
* Most holidays have customary food
* You may need to buy certain items in your home country as they are not available locally. Either buy them when you are home, have them shipped to you, or have a friend bring them when they come to visit; and
* Double check before entering the country with certain food items, as some are not allowed through customs;
* Many holidays have specific adornments
* You may need to buy these decorations over the internet or the next time you are home;
5. Listen to music:
*Many celebrations have traditional songs related to them, find CDs or sheet music;
*You may need to buy the music over the internet or the next time you are home;
6. Wear traditional costumes:
* Many holidays also include wearing a traditional costume; and
* Pick some up while you are home or order them on the internet;
7. Invite friends and or family:
* It is easier to instill cultural awareness when others are celebrating with you; and
* Plan having your family visit around holiday time or invite same nationality families over to celebrate with you.
Other ideas to keep up cultural awareness:
1. Teach your children your mother tongue / language;
2. Sing songs with your children, that you sang as a child;
3. Have your children play games you did as a child;
4. Watch movies you watched as a child, of course in your native language
5. Have your children interact in playgroups with children from the same nationality as yourself; and
6. Talk about and try to regularly visit your ‘home’ country.
About The Author
Reprinted with kind permission of ExpatWomen.com