One of the many wonderful things about living in a multicultural city such as Vancouver is the food. We have hundreds of fabulous restaurants, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, French, Russian, Mexican, Greek, Italian, Iranian, Ethiopian, Moroccan, Turkish, Hungarian, oh, I could go on and on... At the top of my list of favorites is Japanese, followed by Indian as a close second.
Where I live and work, I am a quickly becoming a minority. It's very strange how that happens. But an interesting side effect of that is how other cultures have taught me to respect my own culture. I have had folks from all over the world ask me about my family customs and traditions, and I have to stop and think ... what are they? We never really give much thought to these things here in North America. We have a culture and traditions? Yes, I guess we do.
I remember as a child dancing the Maypole dance in the May Day Celebrations. No, that isn't quite the same as the pole dance done in certain clubs. Maypole dancing is an old British tradition, and it is done to celebrate Queen Victoria's birthday around May 24th. We have a big parade, and one of the little girls is crowned "Queen of the May". It's a lovely tradition. It's silly, I know, but it is a tradition, it's a statutory holiday and we get the day off work and school.
At work, we celebrate the festival of Diwali, which is known as the festival of lights or sometimes as the festival of sweets. You cannot even imagine the wonderful treats people bring to work for us. Omigoodness! And Chinese New Year ... the same thing. Fabulous food, and a big parade winding its way through Chinatown. And the feasts that mark the end of Ramadan, scrumptious! One of our Iranian doctors is a fabulous cook, and she brings in all sorts of exotic treats made with honey, and filo pastry and pistachio nuts. Yum!
I think it is very important for an ethnic society to have common customs and traditions. It's what binds us together and defines whom we are. We risk losing our identity otherwise. What is Canada's ethnic dish, aside from perhaps poutine? McDonald's hamburger? Kentucky Fried Chicken? Do we even have one?
When people from Iran or India or China ask me about my cultures and traditions, I want to have something to tell them. Our cultures and traditions are slowly being eroded from us, generation to generation. We have to learn to keep them and respect them and cherish them, just as we do with other cultures and traditions.
What are some cultures and traditions that you don't want to lose?