As some of you may know from previous blog entries, I am the resident American here at the Cultural Care office. In truth I am Swedish American, with Swedish parents who moved to the USA just a few years before I was born there. This didn’t make me too different, as mostly everyone in the USA come from somewhere else, whether it’s themselves or a few generations back. But Americans tend to be very passionate about their heritage and cling to what makes them unique… this taught me to always be very patriotic growing up!
The time of the year that I must say I identified most with my Swedish heritage was the Christmas holidays. This was the culmination of a lot of traditions that are rather unique, especially since I was the only swede in my group of friends. My friends were always really curious about our traditions so my family always included everyone in our celebrations. We would explain how to make glögg, why we ate pickled fish, and especially why we were allowed to open our presents a day earlier. It was always fun to try to explain because, from the beginning, we didn’t really know the why. My parents, having grown up in Sweden, hadn’t really bothered with the reasoning behind what we did very much. I don’t think many people do, some just follow tradition with little knowledge of the reasoning behind it. Now that their children were asking, they had to find out! I remember looking everything up, calling my grandparents, and then figuring out how to explain it in English. We learned quite a bit!
So for those of you spending your holiday season in the USA, be prepared to share! Sharing your culture and traditions is a huge part of being an au pair. But my personal tip is to also take the time to understand how to explain your traditions as well. Especially kids ask A LOT of questions and you do not want to leave them hanging! You might even learn some more about yourself during the process!
- Why does Santa come to your door while ours goes down the chimney?
- Why do you leave porridge for Santa and we leave cookies?
- Why, oh why, do you pickle fish!?
Remember, most of these questions can be turned around, so don’t be afraid to ask your host family about their own traditions! You and your host kids might have a chance to learn a lot this holiday season!