One of the things I love about being an expat in Dubai is the variety of people here and the opportunities that presents to learn about so many different cultures and traditions. Our kids are lucky to be exposed to such multiculturalism at such an early age; I hope that it will help them embrace the differences between people of all races, religions and walks of life and appreciate the richness such difference brings to our lives and our communities.
We have always enjoyed celebrating holidays from all parts of the world with our friends here in Dubai and have continued that with our children. We celebrate Easter with egg hunts, egg decorating and, of course, lots of chocolate, we have been invited to the homes of American friends to join them in traditional Thanksgiving meals, we have been invited to join Arabic friends for Iftar during Ramadan, we have hosted Diwali celebrations and we make a big fuss over Christmas.
With the Holy month of Ramadan nearly over and Eid just around the corner, it has got me thinking about how to mark this local occasion with the munchkins. While Eid is an Islamic religious holiday, there are still elements of the holiday traditions that non-muslim children can take part in to mark this special time in our host country and learn to respect their culture. For example:
1. Arts and Crafts – Monkey and I have been working our way through the Ramadan Nights themed Kenzibox which has been great fun. There is also lots of inspiration online for Eid themed crafts, many incorporating the traditional Eid symbols of a crescent moon and star. There are some great ideas over at Activity Village ( http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/eid-crafts) and the Kenzibox blog has a tutorial for a lovely moon and stars mobile. I hope to be able to do some of these crafts with the munchkins over the long Eid weekend.
2. Eid Greeting – In the same way we teach our kids to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, when living in an Islamic country it is nice to teach your little ones how to wish people “Eid Mubarak”. Monkey got the hang of Ramadan Kareem pretty quickly and was so proud of himself for remembering it when greeting people, I am sure he will be just the same for Eid Mubarak.
3. Gift Giving – It is traditional for families to exchange gifts at Eid. Why not have your little ones help select and wrap small gifts for a muslim friend or neighbour. The gifts do not have to be expensive and could be homemade, e.g. homemade cookies in star and moon shapes. They can even use their arts and crafts session to make Eid greetings cards to go with the gift. When discussing Eid gifts for our neighbours with Monkey I have already had the “what about me” question. I am taking this as a good opportunity to remind him that we give gifts for the joy of giving, not to receive in return. It helped to remind him of all the times he does get gifts as part of our own traditions.
4. Charity – Charity is a big part of the Ramadan and Eid traditions in Arabic cultures. Eid is a great opportunity to teach or remind kids about charitable giving and helping those less fortunate than themselves. Encourage your kids to partake in a small act of charity on the occasion of Eid, whether it is donating outgrown clothes or toys to a charity, handing out drinks to your local road sweepers or putting a few coins from their money boxes into one of the many charity donation boxes around town.
Keep an eye on our Facebook page to see how many of these traditions the munchkins manage to take part in this Eid.
Are you an expat planning to teach your kids about Ramadan/Eid? What do you have planned? Leave me a comment, I would love to hear from you.