What are you celebrating?

Like most people, I’m a big fan of public holidays. Growing up in rural Australia meant we celebrated the bog standard Australian Public and Christian holidays, whether it was the Queens birthday, ANZAC day or Easter, I loved the anticipation that came with the lead up to a “long weekend”.

When I became an Expat, the holidays I had grown up with and came to expect, disappeared. It’s a hard pill to swallow when you realize other cultures don’t share the same rituals. ANZAC day in Asia? Forget about the Queens birthday in the USA, and unless you happen to live in a country with a favourable time zone, the Melbourne Cup can come and go before you’ve had a chance to eat your Weetbix.

The good news though, is while traveling you can share your celebrations with new friends and maybe add a few new ones to your calender. When we moved to Malaysia I discovered a country close to my own heart, possibly the most generous of countries when it came to a “day off”. We celebrated EVERYTHING. We had holidays for Deepavali, Eid al Adha and Christmas, and when G and I moved to an area with a large Buddhist community we were able witness Vesak in all it’s beauty. Chinese New Year with colourful human dragons, fireworks and loud crashing symbols was intoxicating to the Little Travelers.

As our expat world expanded so did our list of celebrations, the Little Travelers came home from their American school and taught me all about Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. There were new National days to be learnt and rules to understand. We learnt the pool always opened on Memorial Day and closed on Labor Day.

There are times though when celebrations don’t work in your favour.

We were sitting for a meal with our Ethiopian babysitter Helen when Christmas came up in the discussion. The Little Travelers wanted to know what happened in Ethiopia, was there a tree? Helen explained that Christmas was on January 7th rather than December 25th and that the New Year was a couple of months ago as there are 13 months in the Ethiopian Calender.

“What year is it? ” asked the third Little Traveler, Helen replied that 2003 had just begun, the third Little Traveler pinched his own skin and looked in horror at the rest of the family “I haven’t been born yet! I don’t exist”.

Happy Holidays, wherever you may be.

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