Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pakistani Holidays

Every marriage is interesting when you try to mix traditions, but when you try to mix staunchly American and Pakistani traditions, when mixed with Christian and Muslim traditions, it is more than interesting, maybe better described as mind boggling.

I really thought that after all my husband and I had been through together we knew each other well, but it occurs to me, that you cannot know anyone completely, EVER.

One of my best friends is married to a German man, they are both fairly agnostic and knew each other for about eight years before deciding to get married. We had a conversation recently about how many things she has now discovered, five years into the marriage, after having two children, that she would have never expected.

I feel the same way she does. M and I have been married for almost five years now. We have baby S. We've celebrated Eids together and Christmases together. We've put up a Christmas tree, after a HUGE disagreement, I've bought Eid gifts and helped him pick out new clothes for the baby--part of the tradition. I've learned about the Eidee tradition (and taken full advantage of it!) and I've tried my best to be respectful and helpful. This year, my husband volunteered "his wife" to make food for the entire mosque for the breaking of the fast during Ramadan one night. Since they wanted fried chicken, he figured it should be right up my alley.

Forget the fact that they also wanted vegetable pullao, which until that day I had never made, and that we were to feed at least 100 people. One-hundred people! Thank God for my mother, we pulled off the chicken and I extorted a rice maker from my husband for the pullao!

This brings me to Christmas, largely ignored by my husband. This, normally, wouldn't be a problem but this year my parents had to celebrate with us on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas day and this confused my husband. This year is particularly important to my parents because baby S is finally old enough to open their presents and ooh and ahh over them. But my husband, suddenly felt that tradition was being broken by not celebrating on Christmas starting a conversation about whether or not he supports my traditions in the same way that I celebrate his. Cue his *remembering* Iftari dinner and my mother's contributions and how it came to be that I received $200 in twenty dollar bills as my Christmas present. . . .

I think there might still be a culture gap.


  1. As an interfaith family u are lucky your husband is so supportive of your Christmas celebrations. He sounds like a great guy :)

  2. It sounds like you are working your way, slowly but surely, towards finding the balance you need between the two sets of holidays. We do Christmas with my family every year, and so far their haven't been any problems. I think because my family has a lot of traditions tied to Christmas Mr. 4B knows what to expect. He has parts he enjoys (making cookies), things he finds a way to enjoy (he gets to take photos after midnight mass, so he gets something fun to do after all that Catholic-ness!), and things he can't stand (cold weather in the midwest). I still haven't wrapped my head around a lot of his Hindu holidays, though. When I ask things like "What is your favorite food for Ganpati?" he can never quite remember. Maybe these traditions aren't quite as important to Mr. 4B? I want to be supportive and celebrate the Hindu holidays, but we end up going to someone's house and hanging out with drunk people instead of doing anything invested with meaning or memory. I would love to be able to really enjoy both sets of holidays and start to build our own traditions, though.

  3. I think our biggest problem is that while he respects my holidays, he's been taught, all his life, that celebrating any holiday without an Islamic tie is "bad." He enjoys the gift giving, the food, the abundance of outdoor light displays, hanging out with family, and all, but he really tries to ignore the fact that the holiday is coming right up until the day it happens.

    lol, at the favorite foods! My husband can always tell you a food he wants to eat for the holidays. . .he just can't tell you how to make it!