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Interview time with Naomi

Let’s discover about some expats living far from their homelands and how they share their culture(s) with their children. Today, let’s get to know a bit more about Naomi, a Canadian born to a Japanese father and a Canadian mother with Scottish ancestry, living now in Slovakia. Naomi has completely embraced the culture of her Slovak husband. This has just added to her already multicultural background and influences the way she raises her four kids.

KITNDO: Do you pay special attention on transmitting to your kids their cultural heritage and how?

Naomi: I didn’t learn my father’s native language as a child and feel I missed out getting to know that side of the family as well as the culture. So, making sure my children are bilingual is very important to me.
Food and special holidays are the easiest ways to transmit their Canadian cultural heritage. For example, on New Year’s Eve we have Slovak Kapustnica for supper and Japanese sushi during the night. This year we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving properly for the first time and one of my children asked what Thanksgiving was. Oops. We incorporate both Canadian and Slovak traditions for holidays like Easter (Easter egg hunt) and Christmas (food, opening presents both in the evening and gifts from Canada in the morning).
I also sing with the children and teach them songs I learned as a child. We read books aloud, from children’s books centering on Japanese culture to historical fiction chapter books (like Anne of Green Gables and the Canadian Girls series). Here in Slovakia, the children go to a children’s folklore group where they learn traditional songs and dance, as well as wear the traditional dress for performances. It is easy to take for granted that what I know as an adult, everyone must know, but we need to be intentional about teaching children.

KITNDO: What do you miss the most from your homeland?

Naomi: Besides friends and family, I grew up on a farm in the mountains and miss that lifestyle. There is not much snow where we live, and I grew up doing lots of winter activities outside in the Canadian Rockies. Having all that land with animals, living far from town.
I also miss the availability of ethnic foods from all over the world. There is a lot more here now than there was 10 years ago, but I still have to go to the city to get some.

KITNDO: Are you in touch with any Canadian community or with other expats in Slovakia?

Naomi: I know a few expats in my town from various countries, but don’t have connections with any expat community in particular. I live in a small town and it is logistically difficult to go often to Bratislava.

KITNDO: What other ways help you to keep in touch with your homeland?

Naomi: Video calling with family, two of my children have pen pals, I always bring books back with me when we go visit Canada.

KITNDO: What new tradition or recipe, that you learnt in the country you live now, would you take with you if you should move somewhere else?

Naomi: My favorite Slovak dish probably: strapačky (potato dumplings sautéed with sauerkraut and bacon). I love the traditions associated with food, like the process of pig butchering or making sauerkraut.
I also really appreciate traditional Slovak crafts, like embroidery and pottery. Music is one of my favorites – I always enjoy and marvel when a large group of people are together and everyone can sing along because everybody knows the songs.

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Naomi is the creator of the blog ALMOST BANANAS where she shares about life in Slovakia, from recipes to traditions to places worth visiting. She also offers you her free eBook of 10 Slovak recipes.

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How to celebrate a multicultural wedding? Get inspired and learn how to blend cultures into one beautiful celebration

The decision to get married is one of the biggest moves a person takes in a lifetime. Nowadays, couples are free to decide how they want to celebrate this event. No surprise that intercultural couples have all the possibilities to express their cultures in a wedding in any manner they want.

Better than having your wedding quickly out of the control (you don’t want to follow the example of “Big Greek wedding” movie), you have countless ways to mix the cultures creating a truly unique and personal celebration. And since the wedding is maybe the first substantial step in accepting and embracing the culture between two partners, it is important to respect and to be receptive to the wishes of each other.

There are so many opportunities to incorporate your traditions into the celebration. We’ve created a collection of stories and ideas for multicultural weddings that could possibly inspire you to remember and to celebrate your delicious origins.

“In case of my Slovak-Mauritian wedding that we celebrated in France, we started to integrate symbols of our cultures already on the wedding invitation: maps, stamps, and local flowers. When we arrived at the reception place, a Mauritian folk group had escorted our first steps with traditional sounds of Sega music, under amazed eyes of our guests. We have attached the name tag for each person on a piece of cinnamon stick to indicate table sitting. Each guest received as a souvenir, a gingerbread hand decorated in Slovakia, with our initials and the date of the wedding. We had some Mauritian cookies on the dessert table, called Napolitains, that we managed to bring directly from Mauritius. And, we also decided to create our wedding rings by a Mauritian jeweler. Every detail of our wedding was just an expression of our personalities and origins. Since we got married after 18 years of living in our hosting country, France, the culture of this country was a dominant element, namely through the gastronomic point of view. After all, I think we’ve created a real intercultural experience for our guests.” testimony from Janick, living now in New York.

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Fabio and Jessica succeeded in making a nice blending of Italian and American cultures for their wedding. In her blog article, Jessica describes with a good dose of humor how they managed to implement some of the American traditions into the traditional Italian church ceremony. Jessica talks in detail about some of the differences between their cultures and shows the solution that they’ve found to harmonize and to “marry” both traditions. For instance, unlike the Italian tradition, the function of bridesmaids in an American tradition is to help the bride throughout the ceremony, to be the support of the bride. Whereas, in Italy the bridesmaid play a more formal role of testimonies for the brides. So, Jessica decided to have 5 bridesmaids instead of traditional for Italy 1 or 2, and they all wore champagne colored dresses.

Tanya and Arun were both raised in London. However, Arun is Indian and Tanya has Jamaican and Irish origins. So, what did they make? A wedding that incorporated traditions from all the involved countries. The ceremony and reception took place in English. The bridesmaids wore saris. The meal included Indian, Caribbean but also local English dishes. The DJ played all kind of music so that every guest would feel comfortable to dance.

In this beautiful video, you can see how Thea and Rachit embraced Jewish and Hindu cultures in a two-day wedding that took place in the US. Both the brides and guests seem to truly enjoy following the traditional rituals of the Jewish and Hindu wedding.

Linda, wedding planner from Denver in Colorado, shared with us a story when an American couple with Irish ancestors, decided to remember their roots by tying the knot. This old Celtic tradition where the couples claps hands together and wrapped them by the cord, symbolizes their unity in marriage.

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Some more tips…

This article could serve you as a check-list of the different aspects of the wedding where you can show off your culture.

Or you can get some useful tips from Piyali and Jon, who share their personal lessons they’ve learned about the organization of the multicultural wedding

Pinterest board of inspiration for multicultural wedding: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/multicultural-wedding/?lp=true

Wedding rings with Irish Trinity Knot: https://www.irishshop.com/irish-jewelry/irish-wedding-rings-bands-celtic-wedding-rings/trinity-knot-wedding-bands.html

As you might have already guessed, there is an uncountable number of the wedding customs around the world. Here is the selection of some traditions that may surprise you or maybe inspire you to use it for your own wedding celebration. In the end, who said that you have to follow the traditions only from your own cultural heritage?

Share with us your experience with a multicultural wedding. Did you implement your traditions into the celebration? If yes, how?

Or maybe are you getting married soon? Then let us know if this article inspired you to remember your roots.

Written by Maria Migalina