Just a quick little note from your favorite (I hope!) roving Chitalian to say Happy Holidays! Never have I been more aware of the different ways that people celebrate the holidays than now, after having spent Christmas Eve day on Moucha Island (I’ll describe Moucha in another post soon, I promise!) and Christmas Eve dinner with a group of Middle Eastern men and women, who upon hearing that I had no Christmas Eve plans immediately welcomed me into their home to celebrate Christmas with them. Even though I can say with confidence that Christmas is not a Muslim holiday, as my local Muslim coworkers didn’t even know which day it was, I loved how this group had embraced the holiday, putting up a tree, decorations, and writing “Joyeux Noel” (Merry Christmas, in French) on the door. The TV was set to an Arabic MTV Channel for most of the night, and at one point, and Arabic choir came on, singing a version of “Jingle Bells” that had at least one verse in Arabic, one in English, and one in French. I loved the cross-culture-ness of it all!! Our Christmas feast included a whole lamb, humus, baba ghanoush (yum!), couscous, samosas, some tasty but unidentifiable by me other Middle Eastern food, fruit, and miscellaneous cakes and sweets.
The moral of this story, ladies and gentlemen, and travelers of all kinds, is that we should take every opportunity to celebrate our own beliefs, but also embrace the beliefs of others. If we all did that, what a happier world it would be!!
So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, (Happy Christmakkazaa?), or Festivus for the Rest of Us, and may your 2011 be filled with much love, many adventures, abundant joy, and, hopefully, lots of travel!!
Your internationally thankful and world-culture embracing,