The debate that people shouldn’t be allowed to combine different cultures when celebrating holidays is a controversial topic. However, I don’t believe it should matter. During the winter, my family enjoys contributing cultural characteristics from my home country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also taking part in the customs that are consistently seen here in America.
Since I am a Muslim, I don’t necessarily take part in what most people do for Christmas and Thanksgiving.
In my home European country, the food is very unique compared to the cuisines here in America. We have foods like “cevapi” (grilled dish of minced meat, a type of kebab), “Pita” (thin, flaky dough that can be filled with minced meat, cheese, potatoes and even spinach) and of course, “Baklava.” These are the meals that I usually see sitting at my table when having my Thanksgiving meal with my family.
I lived in Germany most of my adolescent life, and in the town that I lived in, Aachen, the residents celebrated unique customs. For instance, given that the town was so small, we all gathered together and walked around, each holding personalized lanterns to symbolize the beginning of winter.
I moved to the states when I was about 7. I grew up with children raving about what plans they had for Christmas, like putting up their tree or making a list of the presents they wanted. Listening to this created an overwhelming feeling of isolation for me. I felt like I was being left out on such a tremendous concept: all the songs and characters (Rudolph, Frosty the snowman, The Grinch and most of all, Santa) created this world of pure merriment and I wanted to be part of it.
Since I was and still am faithful to my religion, my mother tried her best to incorporate the fun aspects of Christmas into my sister’s and my life without losing who we initially are as Muslims.
Whatever we do to get in the Christmas spirit, it was always in a neutral manner in respect to usual Christmas traditions. My family never involved themselves in the religious areas of Christmas. We respect it, but we don’t believe in it. So instead, we keep it simple by doing the nonreligious customs.
During the holiday season we do the usual putting up of the Christmas tree, receiving and giving presents and listening to all the famous Christmas tunes. We brighten the outer frame of my house with lights. All of is this is simply just to celebrate winter and the wonders that come with it.
When you have grow up around multiple cultures, the best way is to combine customs from each culture. This way you are able to create your own unique celebration that can grow into a tradition. Whether you combined a variation of foods or decorate the house in different types of decorations; it just indicates how open America is to multicultural holidays.
In my opinion, everyone deserves to be able to celebrate holidays the way that they choose. We have the right to express ourselves and our cultures how we see fit. The beauty of holidays is that we spend time with the ones we love and partake in activities that makes us happy.