How do you deal with celebrations in your multicultural families?
Families as ours have holidays originating from more than one culture so there is much to be celebrated over the year, much more than in a one-culture family.
I am a native Belgian and grew up in a catholic-christian culture, was baptized, went to catholic schools, etc. My parents were not practising religion; it was more part of tradition to do the celebrations and ceremonies. I am an atheist but appreciate my cultural heritage and of course my values are mainly based on a christian upbringing.
My husband can be described as a Turkish citizen of Arabic-Kurdish ethnicity, he was born muslim and grew up in a devote muslim family. He is not practising any religion (as a matter of fact I believe I have practised much more 'structured (and obligatory)' religion myself during my schoolyears :-). So he too has his own religious and cultural heritage.
We live in Turkey's capital, where you have a mixture of all of Turkey's languages/religions/ethnicities/origins, but the overall majority of Turks is muslim, and the religion is practised or non-practised in all kinds of gradations. With non-practised I mean that the lifestyle is more based on a muslim culture than on a muslim religion.
Just as so many aspects of Belgian society and celebration have their roots in a religious context but nowadays are more part of the culture, at least that counts for many of Belgium's native citizens.
So far for the background.
Now that we have two small children (they're growing so fast, they start to understand more and more of what we teach them, of our way of life etc.) I think it is just a good thing to try to deal with holidays and other costums in a consequent way that feels ok for all of us, and to do it so from the very beginning.
But it is a bit of a struggle: how to deal with celebrations from both parents' cultures? Since we are both non-religious and do not wish to raise our children religiously (e.g. on registration with the authorities we left 'religion' blank) we don't intend to celebrate or explain those from a religious point of view. Only it seems it's not so easy to do that.
Now I speak of holidays or times of the year like X-mas, Easter, Sinterklaas (Dutch/Belgian version of Santa, 6 Dec.), Valentine, Ramadan, Eid (in Turkish Şeker bayramı and Kurban bayramı) and some other habits which are or were linked to religious days (for both cultures/(religions) in our lives).
We do celebrate most of these as family feasts in small circle, just husband, me and kids, in which we are spending time together, doing fun things, make it a special day, and a lot of all that is based on traditional habits (cfr. X-mas tree, presents, special foods, decorating, egghunt, new outfit for the kids, a traditional dish to serve, dressing up, sometimes visiting neighbours or family...) Some of the local Turkish celebrations involve also visits to family and/or neighbours. That's also the case for the ones in Belgium but that's not where we live so most of these we experience more or less isolated from a community.
Only, the problem is that I do know the background of these feasts, big part of the explanation is based on religion. How or to what extent can I and my husband explain the meaning of these celebrations to our children without making it a religious point, or give those special days really a 'deeper', special meaning and not merely experiencing or treating those as a commercial thing?
So far (in my explanations) X-mas is the celebration of winter to end and the starting of the lenghtening of the days, and celebrated as a cosy family feast under the tree. Easter is celebration of spring.
(The muslim celebrations are my husbands thing but he doesn't have much of a clue to be honest)
How are your families dealing with this (in a religious or non-religious way: all advice or stories welcome)?
Also, our youngest started (private) pre-school this year, but for X-mas I kept him at home to celebrate together. My husband works for an international organisation which gives X-mas, and muslim holidays, as a day off so he was home too, that made it very special. I find it weird if just everyone in the household would go to work/school on such a special day. How do you deal with that? Are you willing or able to have your husbands and children at home for holidays which are not the holidays of the country you live in?