Holidays and A Confluence of Cultures

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We live at a confluence of cultures, for the most part, borders and languages blurred and changing.  Nothing reflects that better than the holidays.

I grew up in a country with one distinct population: Caucasians – nearly 100% – who were (many still are) of mostly one religion, and who spoke one language. All around us, and several countries over, that’s all there was.

In my religious family, Christmas was very important  — religiously and traditionally. Folks took great pride in passing down customs such as traditional wear, caroling, folk music, prayer (which included lighting up candles for the departed), food.

I loved it.

The food, the large family, the caroling, the folk music. It all held a certain beautiful magic. Didn’t necessarily like being dragged to Christmas Mass but we, the kids, soldiered through the long service — our rewards awaiting: more gifts from St. Nick and delicious deserts.

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Christmas mass in Romania

Adolescence brought about change — as it always does. Church was strictly for wedding or baptism ceremonies, busy as I was (or claimed to be) with school projects. Outgrowing something imposed on you is inevitable; but when planted so deeply, spirituality never dies; it just takes on a different and deeply personal form.

But that was then.

Now, Christmas is a huge family get-together, free of caroling and prayer and the multitude of traditional dishes, though few have remained. The noise level is the same, but if you overlook the language and food, we could be any family, anywhere. Those deep traditional lines are mostly gone. Two or more streams of people from various parts of the world have merged into one big river, if you will, gathering more streams along the way. 

At least that’s how it appears as I observe, considering where I come from.

I make it a point to visit the Romanian (Greek Orthodox) church here in So. Cal. couple of times a year, mostly to be around Romanian people, do all things Romanian.

When I visit the old country, I light up a candle at the local church for the dearly departed, as I had watched my mother do in the past. Makes me feel connected in a deep way. Our old way, going back centuries — who am I to dismiss it?

I tell my son stories from my Christmases long ago, take him to our  get-togethers here at the Romanian church, but it’s different for him. He is growing up at a confluence of cultures — his father’s and mine — which is also the place I’ve occupied most for the past 22 years.

And it’s a great place to be.  It’s different. Something I would have never imagined as my life all those years back when I rushed home from school, cleaned up my boots and set them by the windowsill, ready for St. Nick. Ready for Christmas.

Speaking of which …

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 … and a very happy New Year. Here’s to a magnificent 2015, dear blogging friend. Cheers! 

—-

Photo: weddings.umbria.com; trm.md; doodletags.com

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23 responses to “Holidays and A Confluence of Cultures

  1. A lovely post, Silvia. I met my first husband when we were in college in Central California, and he told my roommate and me a sad tale of “never ever having a Christmas tree growing up”. Later, of course, he explained that his Buddhist parents had not felt one to be necessary, and we considered choking him (figuratively, at least) for making us feel sorry for him. Our Christmas traditions were very “white”, as we were raised in Protestant churches and had a Catholic grandmother. Having close Hispanic friends now, our Christmas also includes wonderful home-made Tamales (and I make fudge for them). I love the freedom our world offers to enjoy, borrow, and adopt customs from our pagan friends as well as those who follow Christ through these dark winter days.

    Merry Christmas and happy blogging! – Fawn

  2. Really beautiful post..I love it…memories, sweet memories, God bless you as well, Merry Christmas and blessing for your family.

  3. Thank you for offering this to us, memories and reflections that are both personal and universal, as people and cultures melt into new traditions. Me too I’ve moved to another country (differences are not huge, but they exist), so our daughter knows only parts of what used to be “my” typical December/Christmas. And that’s fine.
    A Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  4. Lovely post Silvia thank you so much! Lovely to hear from you on the eve of Christmas. I prepare a bit of a feast for Christmas lunch – served cold as its summer here in sunny South Africa. Presents are given after church service in the morning. We always remember those no longer with us, parents and so on due to death and other family members and friends not with us.

    May your Christmas be filled with joy and goodwill, peace and warmth. And may 2015 be fulfilling in every way. :)

  5. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Sivia! Such a lovely post with things to ponder and celebrate. So happy to have met you in this other world of blogging!

  6. I LOVE your timely post regarding tradition and memories of the past. In some ways, those of us who are older than you, and depending on what part of the states we grew up, experienced similar traditions as you. My younger years were spent in the Seattle area of Washington state before we moved to Los Angeles. While here, we lived in a very small, rural town so we were surrounded constantly by neighbors and friends. We looked out for one another and had a big Christmas gathering of the neighbors on Christmas day, usually at our home. Mom and dad didn’t put up the tree until Christmas eve and Santa arrived afterwards so when my brother and I awoke Christmas morning we had a beautiful tree with fun gifts below. it was a special time.

    Now life has become more frantic. My family is spread around the state so pulling the family together for the holidays is more difficult. I meet more people on-line than in the comfort of my home. So, even here in the states tradition has changed. And, as other comments have said… I value meeting you here and reading your interesting words. So I wish you and your family a very warm, loving, and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

  7. For a very short period each Christmas season, I wish I lived in the same town with my parents and siblings because scattered lives make it more difficult to carry on traditions. I loved reading this – as I do all your posts about melding your Romanian roots with your US family. Merry Christmas, Silvia.

  8. I love tradition and the connectedness through candle lighting is a beautiful example of that. Many of us come from different regions of this world and we have adapted while cherishing memories and rituals of our pasts. It’s a lovely time of year to do this. Wishing you warm and peaceful times during the Christmas season and throughout the new year!

  9. Interesting how things have changed and how they’ve remained the same. Do you tell your kids all about how it was when you were growing up?

  10. Lovely memories, Sylvia. Christmas is where the heart is.

  11. Beautiful. Merry, merry!

    Fondly,
    Elizabeth

  12. Hi Silvia .. we are a mix of peoples now-a-days .. I don’t think I am – but I can see it in others … it’s wonderful to keep your traditions going, and if not to at least write them down for your son and family ahead!!!!

    So much has changed for our families in the past 200 – 300 years .. so different – yet the Romans were everywhere … it’s interesting we can learn so much ..

    I hope you have a wonderful New Year’s Eve and a very happy 2015 – cheers Hilary

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