a transatlantic mommy / mummy blog – my kids say "tomato" & "to-mah-to"

We moved to England and found Baby Jesus and the Easter Bunny!

Holidays are a strange bag. Whatever country you’re in – there are always going to be people who do/don’t celebrate the national holidays or even the holidays that you do.  While there are some holidays that are just plain different in the US vs UK (think Halloween and Boxing Day), surprisingly I’ve found it’s the ones that should be the same that are so different for me.

Having grown up in the U.S. I’m used to Christmas being more about Santa than baby Jesus. In fact – the older I got – the further secularized this holiday was. In the work world, any party that happens in December is called a Holiday Party, so as not to offend or alienate anyone. ( Although you can call it Merry Christmakwanzakah if you want to! ) Not so here in the U.K.  I was actually on the “Christmas Party Planning Committee,” and kept getting blank stares when I’d inadvertently say “Holiday Party.” I’ve been so well conditioned not to say it that it almost feels like nails on a chalkboard when I do so.

But this Christian Christmas Spirit was limited to the office – oh no. My 6yr old (then 5) for weeks kept mumbling about “Baby Jesus.” He’d repeat over and over “2,000 yrs ago Baby Jesus.” over and over and over for weeks. We asked him about it since it wasn’t something he’d picked up at home and he told us he learned it at school and he loved singing about Baby Jesus. {que surprised eye exchange between hubby and myself as we send our child to a non-denominational, private, International School} A few weeks later we attended his Nativity Pageant. Honestly, I have never seen or heard of one of those outside of an old book, or Catholic School in the U.S. In any case it was a simple but jazzy stage-show with Wise-Men wearing sunglasses and of course my little Angel, singing not just about Baby Jesus – but stars and other things while representing the nativity. (Now Baby Jesus is now referred to as Baby Cheeses in our house by the kids – thanks to Modern Family) The kids all enjoyed themselves tremendously – but it wasn’t about faith or religion, for them it was the dramatic experience that resonated with them.

Having been in the UK just over a year – we’ve gotten to experience Easter twice already. The first time I was wholly unprepared. A few days before school was out for Easter term break – buried in a school newsletter was a mention of the kids wearing Easter Bonnets to school. Easter Bonnets??? OMG What is that? I’ve never seen or heard of one in my life. My first thought was some type of Little House on the Prairie deal with lots of ribbons. What to do but look it up using Google image search and then check my findings with a few English Mums.

My son was delighted with his hat – and this year I was better prepared. It was a masterpiece of glue-gunnery! (cowboy hat + John Lewis Easter decorations = awesome!) He was so proud of his hat that he designed (and I glued, because it’s hot you know) that he insisted upon not just wearing it to school – but on the trip to the Grandparents house in Belgium for Easter holidays.

And when I say wear it – I mean it. We took the Eurostar and our train to Belgium was leaving about 3 minutes after a train headed to Paris – which was full of Japanese tour-group. 200 of whom, now have photos of my son posing or dancing in his Easter Bonnet as a little souvenir from their trip to London. 

I like these traditions. And to me that’s more of what they seem than an observance of faith.

I hope they don’t go away like they have done so in the U.S.  But, in a way I wouldn’t want this to be suddenly picked up on in the U.S. and forced on people to adopt – because frankly I think we’d do it wrong. I feel like we’d make it so much more complex than the simple thing it is currently – making it bigger and more “meaningful” and bringing more faith into it – or just the opposite – making it so politically correct so as not to offend anyone and it’s just not the same anymore.

Growing up in a very secular home (my Mom’s family is very Catholic my Dad’s Protestant – neither have been churchgoers since childhood, and I studied world religions and attending every type of service you can think of at one time or another but never found something that spoke to me.) and my husband having grown up Catholic and attending Catholic school his entire life – overloading on it so much so that he now doesn’t believe in any type of religion whatsoever- I like that my child is being exposed to different levels of faith of and belief. But although it’s touched his life, here in the U.K. I don’t feel it’s been done with the same pressure as we’ve experienced in the U.S. While overtly Politically Correct – it can be overwhelmingly “Faith-full” as well. Upon moving to new towns/jobs – we’ve often been asked as a first question and repeatedly if we’ve found our Church yet, which can be extremely off-putting even though it was meant well.

I look forward to seeing how religion, faith and spirituality are addressed, adopted or rejected as my children grow both from a U.S. and U.K. perspective – and the choices they make and the beliefs they’ll hold.

 

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6 years ago 4 Comments Short URL
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