Friday, December 17, 2010

Who Brings Better Gifts? Santa or The Three Wise Men?

Meltingpot readers,

If you live in a multiculti household like I do, where language, culture and customs are varied, holidays pose a special challenge. Christmas is no exception. In the Kinky Gazpacho household, since we live in the United States, we pretty much rely on Santa Claus to bring the gifts to our children, but now that el esposo's sister is here with us, we are trying to incorporate more of the Spanish Christmas traditions into our celebrations.

So, of course my clever children think it all boils down to this: Who brings better gifts? Santa or the Three Wise Men? In Spain, Santa Claus is growing in popularity, but traditionally gifts were given by the Three Wise Men on January 6. In my opinion, it makes far more sense that the we'd get presents on Jesus' birthday by the same three dudes who brought Jesus his presents back in the manger, instead of some random Dutch guy in red suit who keeps company with domesticated deer and mini-people. I wonder why we in America fixated on Santa instead of The Three Wise Men? If anyone knows why, please enlighten the rest of us.

And in the meantime, how do you all who live in multicultural households combine traditions at holiday time?

I'm listening.



Lovelyn said...

I don't know where the whole Santa Claus thing came from, but the Three Wise Men tradition sounds interesting to me. Like you said, it makes sense. My husband is English and I'm African American. Our holidays traditions are pretty similar, but neither of us are really into the holidays so we deal with them by ignoring them.

MissAttitude said...

I'm half Latina, half Black but when it comes to Christmas we always celebrated it on dec. 25th. As kids we just couldn't hold out till Jan.6th!

But at Christmas our meal is very mixed but lean more towards Latin food with some Southern food. Cornbread, arroz con pollo, duck, etc. Yummy :)

Lucy Mair said...

Hey darlin',
Since we are a half Jewish/ half nominally-Christian-but-mostly-atheist household we don't have a tree or the normal christmas trappings. But I am not quite ready to forego the stockings that I remember so fondly from my own childhood. This year since we are headed to Lanzarote over Christmas the kids wrote to Santa and asked him to deliver early. So believe it or not, the stockings have just been stuffed in our house. I think the "magic" of Christmas is worth preserving in a world where everything has become uber-real, virtual and gratification is always instantaneous. But the commercialization of Christmas really depresses me and so I enjoy our Hannukah celebrations, around the same period, which emphasize miracles and light, rather than consumerism. As far as the kids are concerned, being half everything just means more celebrations, more sweet treats and more gifts! Yay for melting pot households! Love ya, Lucy

Itsbugart said...

I am originally from South Carolina, USA, but live in western Sweden with a Finnish man. We do Southern Yule at home and Swedish (with some Finnish additions) at Harri's parents' home. I feel weird about mixing the 2 so we don't have turkey and Jansson's Frestelse (anchovy and potato dish) in the same meal. for some info & recipes in English.

I've brought the stocking custom with me so I hang one for me and one for Harri and each fills the others stocking on Dec. 24th but no peeking is allowed until the

LT said...

When you say ignore, what do you mean exactly? How much do you ignore? I'm curious.

Love it. It always comes back to the food. This year, I'm making pozole and empanadas for X-mas dinner. It's Mexican, but who cares. I love it.

I'm so with you on the gross commercialization and constantly struggle with how to tone down the gift giving part, but my kids still totally believe in Santa, so I'm willing to keep that magic alive while I can. But I do try to spend a lot of our time giving to others, so they understand that X-mas is not about getting gifts only, but giving to others.

Thanks for sharing. Sounds like a whole lot of mixing going on in your part of the world. I love how you handle it all.

Olivia said...

This is such a great discussion. We just moved back to Belgium, so we're now incorporating Sinterklaas (Dec. 6) since he's so big over here. I was happy to ignore the tradition and some of its racist undertones while we lived in Philly, but it's just not possible while living here.

As for Christmas, we're keeping the 25th in the morning and the stockings (as opposed to opening presents on Christmas Eve as is traditional here) as I love that aspect of Christmas.
Also I grew up in an atheist household and we always celebrated "the return of the light"... it worked for me so we're not including Jesus either.

Waiting for Zufan! said...

When the kids are in Puerto Rico, Los Tres Reyes bring most of the gifts; in MN or WI, Santa reigns. When in Rome...

We alternate years. The X will be taking the kids to PR without me this year (our first year apart, so sad for me) so they'll get Reyes gifts. Usually, they sorta get extra gifts. :) Or split,
in theory, but usually they end up with "extras." No matter, the biggest gift giving is always my parent's house Christmas Eve opening. So I guess that makes 3 days of gifts. Materialism at its finest. Oh, well. I've gotten to just let the grandparents do what they do, and the rest of the year we keep the reigns on materialism.

Waiting for Zufan! said...

ooops. parents'. :)Tons of stuff...

Gayle Gardner Lin said...

Since we know now that December 25th isn't the actual date of the birth of Jesus, I don't think it really matters when you celebrate.
I never discovered how my husband's family celebrated Christmas since his mother was a Christian and his dad an atheist.
I suppose that's the one good thing about the commercial side ... even the atheists can enjoy the day.
I do know that he immediately adapted my way and found great pride in showing off my Christmas tree in every room.

LT said...

Hi!!! It sounds like you've figure out how to make it work whichever side of the pond you're on. So smart!

I bet your kids are thrilled to be able to have 3 holidays!

A Christmas tree in every room? Really? Wow!