Thanksgiving, Saint Nicolas day, Diwali, Hannukah, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year, Shinnenkai… there are so many holiday traditions across different religions and cultures!
Coming from a large French family, I enjoy everything about sharing a holiday: time off, great food, family gatherings, visiting friends, gift exchanges or new year’s wishes. Beyong the traditions that come with your country of origin and religion, there are traditions that you have developed as a family.
Sharing those traditions with your au pair is a wonderful gift for a young person seeking to discover the American culture. Especially Thanksgiving, as we see Americans celebrating around a big turkey in all the movies and TV shows like “Friends” (right), but obviously it is not celebrated anywhere else (“No, we didn’t have pilgrims in France”)…
Let your extended family know that your au pair is part of your family for a year, and beyond a childcare provider, she or he is also a friend. Make sure to include her in the festivities, and also give her/ him the option to spend some of that time with friends or traveling if they wish (New Year’s at Times Square in New York or watching fireworks by the ocean may be on their “list of things to see”).
We represented our countries at the local Christmas Parade under the banner of the International Center of the Upstate!
Czech Republic: Three Kings Day (Tri Kralu), the last day of Christmas historically celebrated on January 6, is celebrated by young boys in the Czech Republic. They wear white robes and paper crowns and visit neighboring homes. At each home they write the letters “K+M+B” (Kasper, Melchoir and Balthazar) and the year in honor of the three wise men.
Germany: Advent is celebrated in Germany with an advent candle. A candle is marked with the dates December first through 24. As a countdown for Christmas, each night the candle is lit and burned just until it hits the next day’s date.
Ecuador: Christmas festivities begin earlier in the month with Novenas, masses and events recalling the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. The highpoint of the celebrations is the festival of the traveling Infant Child, the Pase del Nino Viajero on December 24.
Poland: St. Nicolas Day is celebrated on January 6, when parents place small presents under their children’s pillows or in their shoes. Polish children wake up to small toys and candies in their shoes.
Sweden: The feast of St. Lucia is celebrated on December 13. Young girls awaken their families wearing crowns of candles and white robes, symbolically representing the bringing of light into the darkness winter. The same ceremony is repeated in schools and office.