Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu! The other day I was able to learn more about the Japanese way of celebrating the new year at an event organized by a group of young Japanese mothers;’ many of their husbands are here temporarily with a local university. I met a young Japanese man, permanently living in the States, who brought his daughter, Sophie, along with Sophie’s American grandmother (the mother was a teacher who could not take a leave from her students). The young man wanted his daughter to learn about the Japanese half of her heritage. As I was a grown up daughter wanting to learn more about the Japanese half of my heritage, I was very happy that Sophie could experience such an event. Those living here in St. Louis are lucky to have many heritages embracing their cultures with special events open to the public. I plan to attend an upcoming Japanese storytelling theater presentation and even went to a Swedish Santa Lucia celebration in December even though I’m not the least bit Swedish.
The most fun way of learning about our heritage is to hear the stories of our parents or grandparents, especially if they are immigrants who can tell first-person stories of their home country and its traditions. Attending local events of one’s culture is a treat, even if it is necessary to travel a little to a nearby city or plan a vacation around a cultural celebration. Online searches can help find events or associations for specific heritages (search for the culture followed by “American association,” ex. Irish American association OR the state name followed by the culture, ex. Indiana Scottish). Here are a few general sites I found:
Swedish Council of America, with affiliates in many cities
Garam Chai website for all things Indian (India) in the U.S.
And while we are talking about heritage and culture, please donate to help Haiti recover from the earthquake devastation.