Did you that today is Kamolol Day, what we would call Thanksgiving, in the Marshall Islands? When you host an au pair with Go Au Pair, your family had better be ready for a cultural childcare experience. This one includes multicultural holidays and traditions you may never heard of, and new ways to celebrate the ones you already know!
At this time of holiday preparation in the US, it is important to involve your au pair in your family’s celebrations, and ask him or her about their celebrations back home. This way, you can live up to the Department of State’s claim the Au Pair Program is mutually beneficial to American families and international au pairs.
Your au pair loves your children and cares for them while you work, but he or she is only human and wants to celebrate and be recognized as well. Let them share some of the songs, traditions, recipes and crafts from their home country, particularly around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. Keep in mind that not all American families celebrate the same holidays, due to religious differences. Be considerate, particularly if your au pair is of a different religion or celebrates differently. This is a great time to teach the kids, through modeling, about tolerance, acceptance and respect.
Want to know if today, any day of the year, is a holiday somewhere? Earth Calendar is a website where you can search for holidays by date, country or religion. Very cool. It is interesting to note that many nations celebrate similar holidays, but at different times of the year. For a good chuckle, you must check out their list of International holidays….is there really a World Lizard Day AND a World Snake Day? Do we need more than one day to celebrate creepy crawlies? But seriously, the list will entertain if not educate you!
In Argentina, home of Franco, one of our local au pairs, some people put cotton balls on the Christmas tree (which by the way can be any kind of tree) to represent snow (since it is warm at Christmastime)! Many people stay up late Christmas Eve and eat a big meal at 10 or 11pm, staying up through the night and often sleeping most of the next day. Viktoriia, a local Ukrainian au pair, celebrates with her family sharing the Holy Supper, or Sviata Vecheria, eaten on Christmas Eve, which takes place on January 6th, due to their use of the old Julian calendar.
South Africa is also warm at Christmas, so Maryke and her family often eat the large Christmas day feast outdoors! The kids also hang stockings for Sinterklaas or Kersvader, their version of Santa Claus. Our newest local au pair, Marcela, celebrates with her Colombian friends and neighbors by lighting a candle on the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, celebrated on December 8th in neighborhoods all over the country. The Novena is celebrated 9 days before Christmas, with the retelling of the story of Jesus’ birth and the historic journey of Mary and Joseph.
Learn how to say Merry Christmas in your au pair’s language!
As is the American culture, family is most important during this time of year. Be sure to encourage your au pair to communicate with his or her family back home as well as teach your family about his or her traditional celebrations of this precious time of year. No matter your religion, this is a time of peace of love for all people. Please contact me with your questions about a cultural childcare experience for your family. I am Joan Lowell and you can reach me at 401.309.1925 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Register for free at www.goaupair.com/Providence to get started with your au pair search today!