Christmas is abundant in culture in our little home. We’re a trilingual household, with Polish, Italian and English being spoken between us and the members of our family, and so when we celebrate Christmas, there are many customs and traditions to follow and weave into the Christmas season. I often ask myself to what extent it is possible to be a multicultural family, how far can we go in being three at once: Polish, Italian and English.
It’s been only recently that I came up with the answer to the how far question:
We can go as far as our curiosity goes.
For is this not what identity is? All that we’ve been thus far and all where our curiosity takes us to.
I feel that the more we cultivate the three languages, the deeper we dive into the cultures that accompany them. It’s either following one’s interest and enjoying it or living in a state of permanent nostalgia for what we once were (or what we once hoped to become). It’s interesting that we can either answer our curiosity or be saddened by it.
If you follow Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook, you will learn a lot from her about curiosity-driven life. I love her idea and now it is a perfect moment for me to embrace it. A perfect moment to start learning, exploring and loving our three cultures.
So this is where this blog is going to venture now.
From curiosity to cultures. :)
But where was I… oh yes… traditions and customs. I proclaimed myself a custodian of cultures this Christmas and although we celebrated in England, I made a typical Polish dinner on Dec 24: carp, beetroot soup, ginger bread and pasta with poppy seeds, nuts and raisins. Just before Christmas our Italian friends came over for a short visit. It was interesting for me to learn that where they are from in the south of Italy, they also celebrate Christmas starting on Dec 24 eating fish, opening presents and going to church at midnight. This is different to how my husband’s family celebrated it in the north of Italy – with the main emphasis being on Dec 25. If you happen to be from the north of Italy, I am curious to know if this is still true for you.
Children benefit greatly from celebrating multicultural Christmas. Not only because of the different foods, customs and music but also because presents are given in different places of the world at different times which can mean more presents, or if you think like me, it would mean that not everything needs to be opened from everyone on the same day and the joy can be spread throughout the weeks. In Poland we tend to give each other the main presents on Dec 24 after our main Christmas dinner, but also something small a bit earlier in the month on Dec 6 for St Nicholas’ Day (Mikołajki). On Dec 6 my mother used to put some nuts, oranges, a piece of chocolate into our shoes and sometimes a little practical winter present like a pair of gloves, warm tights or a hat. Nothing too fancy – the present was just meant to bring a smile to our faces and warmth to our bodies. Practical and simple. In England, the main presents are opened on the 25th and in Italy, something small is also given on the 6th of January, for la Befana – Befana is an old witch-like woman who brings candies and fruit to good children and garlic and coal to the naughty ones. If you are a cook, you are lucky, you can purposefully misbehave and you will get garlic and fuel with which to start cooking many of your pasta sauces. :)
Have a great curiosity-driven year!
Where do you think your curiosity will take you in 2016?