I am excited to share a “Persian Mommas” views and contemplations when she is celebrating the holidays. The dichotomy that many Iranian Americans feel with various holidays and traditions, and how they want to raise their children is very well portrayed here. In the end… doesn’t it usually come down to balance? Let’s see.
Thank you Sanaz Zhalehdoust, Founder of www.persianmomma.com for this post and for sharing your traditions with us!
Deciding on whether to celebrate Christmas was a bit of a cultural struggle for my husband and I initially. While we both love festive holidays, beautiful Christmas lights, the sight of Santa Claus with his white fluffy beard, and the feel of everything Christmas, we felt a bit hypocritical in celebrating it.
It was almost like by giving into this celebration we may be losing a bit of our Persian identity. So we questioned ourselves, challenged one another, and eventually came to the conclusion that we would indeed be putting up a little tree to culturally connect us with the rest of America.
However, we were very clear to our children we did not celebrate Christmas as most others do. We were not going to be buying presents for one another. We often don’t have the luxury of visiting our parents and having a big feast with them at this time either. Instead, we will put up our festive tree, and spread the holiday cheer by donating toys to kids who didn’t have them. I feel like we have found our balance and SO FAR, we have had no complaints from the kids. We reserve the present giving and big fuss for our Persian New Year, Norooz, to make the kids extra excited about it.
It once came up during a cultural leadership seminar that I went to (specifically a PAAIA NexGen conference), that for immigrants, it is natural to lose a part of their culture as they migrate to another country. If they didn’t, they would become a museum, rather than an integrated part of their new society. It’s true. As immigrants, we are morphed into something new, what can be a beautiful amalgam of two or more cultures. But the challenge remains; what aspects of our Persian culture do we want to leave behind, and what are essential in the keeping. Only YOU can answer this for yourself and decide what kind of amalgam you choose to be.
But if we are representing the Persian culture abroad, and as we pick up new habits and traditions, I hope you will remember this for our future generation:
“He said that if culture is a house, then language was the key to the front door; to all the rooms inside. Without it, he said, you ended up wayward, without a proper home or a legitimate identity.” ― Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed
Thank you again, Sanaz, for this post!