Marrying someone from a different country and with a different cultural background calls for some compromises when it comes to daily routines, but certainly also when it comes to celebrating different holidays. Being able to compromise is essential in any marriage, but the differences may be more prevalent in a multicultural marriage. Here are a few tips that have worked for my family when it comes to celebrating holidays and honoring both cultural backgrounds. I have included the Holidays where we do a bit more as a family.
Christmas is by far the biggest holiday that we celebrate in our family. My husband and I both come from families with Christian backgrounds, although we do not practice our faith extensively. Traditionally we have celebrated the Christmas Holiday somewhat different and we have had to compromise somewhat in order to make it work for both of us. In Denmark, most people celebrate Christmas on December 24th. People get together around dinnertime and have Christmas dinner together. After dinner families walk around the Christmas tree hand in hand singing Christmas songs and hymns. We call it dancing around tree. Sharing of the presents comes after the dancing is done. This is the time of night that most people love. The family is gathered to share the spirit of the season with great food, singing and sharing gifts.
In my family today we have combined the Danish and American tradition as good as we are able to. The 24th is our night, where my husband, daughter and I celebrate much as my family does in Denmark. We have a nice dinner; share our presents with each other and the ones that my family has sent us from Denmark. We love this tradition and try to find at least one night where we can do this as a family. The 25th is the day we celebrate with our American side of the family with Presents in the morning and Christmas dinner at noon. Most of all, we try to teach our daughter that she has two cultural backgrounds with slightly different traditions.
In Denmark, Easter is a national Holiday. Banks, schools and stores close on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, and schools are out for the entire week of Holy week before Easter Sunday. This is because Danes are predominantly protestant and publicly these Holidays are observed. In many families people celebrate by attending church and have Easter lunches or dinners. In my family we celebrate Easter with Easter Lunch and that is much the same as what my husband’s American family has done.
89er Day in Oklahoma
My husband’s home state is Oklahoma and since we have moved back to Oklahoma we try to attend 89er day celebrations. 89er day celebrates the anniversary of the Oklahoma Land Run in 1889, where unassigned lands in Oklahoma were opened for settlement. This year our daughter was in pre-school and therefore took part in her first Okie Dokie day celebration at her elementary school. The children learned about 89er day and got to see the real wagon train that comes through Oklahoma every year in memory of the many people who settled here before us.
The 4th of July
Since this is an important American Holiday we usually try to observe this day by attending some sort of City Celebration. Often families come together during the summer and celebrate this holiday together and we usually take part in the festivities in our city.
I think the most important thing about cultural traditions and Holidays in a multicultural marriage is to first of all have an open mind. Especially if there are children involved I find it important for families to discuss what they want their children to learn and experience. Recognizing both cultural backgrounds is extremely important for the family unit in order to understand each other’s backgrounds.