Being fully present in multiple cultures simultaneously
Many people find intercultural encounters scary as they are frightened of doing or saying the wrong thing. Gaining experience of different cultures and people can help with your confidence. Knowing your own culture – its benefits and pitfalls – is essential. Being aware of the cultural behaviours of the other cultures you maybe encountering is also useful.
The Christmas period
I live in Spain. During the Christmas period (and for me that’s what it’s called) I had the pleasure of seeing my Argentinean friends and experiencing again how they celebrate Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) with lots of meat well into the night. My guests of the period were my former lodger from Antigua and his mother. I took them for a very British Traditional Christmas lunch on the seafront at Benidorm where it was warm enough to sit outside.
The in-between Period
On the 28th I was fortunate to be invited to a rock concert in a stadium in Madrid. The 40th anniversary concert of the Spanish Band “Hombres G”. Witnessing how middle aged Spanish (therefore Intercultural and Intergenerational) behave: standing up for 2.5 hours singing all the words.
New year Period
Noche Vieja (New years eve) was spent with a traditional Spanish dinner. The next few days were spent in Madrid with one of my best friends from Dubai. We had great fun trying (and succeeding) to find Pork-free and Alcohol-free food on Spanish Menus. Fortunately as part of my personal intercultural training I know my way very well around Spanish Menus. Fortunately also, my other friends and I didn’t feel the need to exclude ourselves from indulging in both, indeed we were encouraged.
The Reyes (three kings) period
On the night of the 5th of January the Spanish leave a shoe by the Christmas tree in the hope of receiving gifts from The Three Kings. This is why the sales in Spain start January 7 rather than December 26 in UK. There is a traditional cake called a Roscon which is a sweet bread-based ring-shaped dessert which is eaten on January 6th. So we had to abandon eating the British Mince Pies with Brandy Butter for two days to focus on the Roscon. It was great to experience Spanish Epiphany Mass in a village church.
None of this would have been possible without the effort made to know people from different cultures, and understand their cultures and also introduce them to mine.
I had a great time because I knew what I was doing, was proud of my own culture and took the time to learn about others. Rather than taking the safe middle ground for fear of upsetting, this was enjoying one’s own and other traditions to the full. You can also do this . Read more here