KEEPING UP WITH THE TRADITIONS
THE HOLIDAY SEASON IS HERE. WHERE WILL YOU CELEBRATE IT? LIFE ABROAD CAN MAKE THE HOLIDAYS EVEN MORE SPECIAL… PHOTOGRAPHS ISTOCKPHOTO
TEXT KATHY BORYS SIDDIQUI
KATHY BORYS SIDDIQUI FOUNDER, ACTIVE ACTION Kathy was born in Poznań, Poland and has lived in four countries and on two continents. Growing up as an immigrant and a cross cultural kid she was able to discover a multicultural world that shaped her into the per-
CELEBRATING THE CHRISTMAS holidays away from home can be both exciting and tough. We look forward to experiencing the new customs and traditions of our host country and, at the same time, we have a profound longing for what we know. Nostalgia often accompanies our international lives. We can feel very nostalgic during this time of the year, especially if we are not traveling home for the Holidays.
WHY ARE TRADITIONS AND CUSTOMS SO IMPORTANT TO US? Expat life is demanding and, therefore, keeping up with certain customs, traditions, and celebrations is a way to stay connected to home and to our cultural identity. When we celebrate in our traditional ways we often revert to our childhood memories. We think of loved ones, family and home country. Traditions also give us a sense of belonging, balance, and continuity. Our cultural identity is one of the most important things we have as internationals. Living in a highly mobile world, where cross-cultural experiences are the norm our sense of self will be questioned.
TRADITIONS VS. ADAPTATION – CAN WE HAVE BOTH? I say we can. Tradition has many definitions, but in my opinion, the Latin one fits particularly well with our international lives. In Latin, tradition means “something handed over.”. Stepping away from the traditions we know can be sometimes seen as a threat of extinction, but as internationals, we are constantly exposed to different cultures, with their own traditions and customs. How can we make this work? Anthropologist Alice E. Horner talks about tradition as a reservoir. According to her, “tradition is a strength to draw upon, a source of historically defined identity, and a source of a sense of safety…” (www.web.law.columbia.edu). I think this “sense of safety” reflects well how we approach tradition as internationals.
DECEMBER 2018 - WWW.THE-INTL.COM
son she is today. As an adult she experienced life as a re-pat as well as an expat and she is not a stranger to the When we have been living in a host country for numerous years, it is very likely that we start incorporating some of the traditions we have come in contact with. We may find ourselves changing some of our old traditions and incorporating new ones. Just as many multicultural families have two or three languages in their households, the traditions and ways of celebrating may also multiply. I think it is possible to live in a foreign country, adapt and keep our traditions going. It might not be ‘the conventional way’, but we need to do what works for us. I grew up in the United States and my parents did their very best to celebrate Christmas traditionally. We were in a foreign land but we stuck to certain traditions we had (dishes, presents on Christmas Eve, Polish Christmas carols…). I am so grateful!
challenges and opportunities that life
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can Studies. She has been able to com-
As internationals, we have a wonderful opportunity to learn about other cultures by participating in international events and celebrations. We have the ability to share our traditions, open our homes to others and raise cultural awareness. Celebrating by bringing so many cultures together shows the beauty of the human heart and the ability to include. We all have a need to feel connected to our roots but we have an equally strong need to connect with others. Let’s remember that all year long. THE-INTL
abroad offers. Just when she least expected it, she met her Danish husband and once again packed her life in boxes and set off to live the happily-ever-after life in the land of the Vikings and Hygge. Over the span of 10 years she has lived on Fyn, in Jylland and currently in Nordsjælland. Kathy has a background in Cultural Studies and also a degree in Ameribine her passion and profession as a Cultural Transition and Expat Spouse and Partner Specialist at Active Action. A firm believer that if you are lacking something - create it. She is the founder of two International Mom Groups in Denmark, a running enthu-
" A S I N T E R N AT I O N A L S , W E H A V E A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY TO L E A R N A B O U T O T H E R C U LT U R E S B Y P A R T I C I P AT I N G I N I N T E R N AT I O N A L E V E N T S A N D C E L E B R AT I O N S . "
siast, active lifestyle advocate, wife and Mom.