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How To Thrive in a Mixed Faith/Mixed Culture Society during & beyond the Holiday Season

Updated: Jan 13

Mixed faith and culture are only two of many variables that influence how the holidays are celebrated. According to a Pew Research study, almost four-in-ten Americans (39%) who have married since 2010 have a spouse who is in a different religious group. By contrast, only 19% of those who wed before 1960 report being in a religious intermarriage (Source). How do mixed faith traditions play out during the holidays?

Holiday Food Traditions

A challenge for many folk is how to celebrate holiday food traditions. This year, families might have potato latkes at one get-together, a West Indian or South African Kwanzaa curry dish, a Diwali sweet, or a honey-glazed Christmas ham at the same or next holiday get-together. Folks of one tradition may prefer not to eat food of another tradition. Those on restricted diets and/or those who are into wellness diets (i.e., non-gluten, non-dairy, paleo, etc.) may hold back from the often rich holiday dishes. Or, they may break with their tradition, preferring to enjoy a rich holiday meal (and suffer the consequences later).

Other Holiday Traditions

In addition to variations in holiday food, there are prayers, rituals, gift-giving, and fireworks to celebrate holidays of various traditions. Decisions, decisions... Christmas tree (real or artificial, large or small) and/or Chanukah menorah. Real candles or battery-operated candles? By recognizing the distinctiveness about holidays and traditions, interfaith couples can create authentic celebrations, converting a December dilemma into December delights in their own unique ways. (Source: Brandeis NOW).

Complications of an Aging Society

Do you still give gifts to adults, or just to children? Do you ask people/parents for whom you give gifts what they want/need or do you choose what you would like to give? What about what you would like to receive? Do you mingle with the holiday crowds or do you prerfer/know how to use the online marketplace? How do you celebrate the holiday/s with family and friends, who may live across the country or traveling? Are you isolated in the middle of seasonal illnesses or inclement weather?

What Gifts To Give and Receive

Do you still give gifts to adults, or just to children? Do you ask people/parents for whom you give gifts what they want/need or do you choose what you would like to give? What about what you would like to receive? Do you mingle with the holiday crowds or do you prerfer/know how to purchase gifts in the online marketplace?

Environment of Choice

Do you attend live gatherings or do you perfer the comfort of your own environment? Are you so stressed out from the holiday season that all you want to do is decompress and watch movies from your virtual living room? If so, to which streaming service do you subscribe to, or do you prefer tp purchase individual films or borrow DVDs from the public library? How do you wade through the endless categories of film offerings?

A Suggestion

Here's a suggestion on how to thrive in a mixed-faith/mixed-culture society during and beyond the holiday season: Access carefully curated documentary or narrative films from around the world by subscribing to the totally online Legacy Film Festival on Aging, scheduled for January 6 – 22, 2023. As a Festival Board Member, I recommend viewing the following featured films about elders from different cultural and faith traditions:

Fiddler's Journey to the Big Screen

Daniel Raim directed this documentary feature, showing behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with cast and crew, and never-before-seen stills that provide insight into the making of the beloved musical film Fiddler on the Roof.

Haida Modern This documentary feature, directed by Charles Wilkinson, traces Robert Davidson's artistic career from his youth in Haida Gwaii and Vancouver studying with masters such as Bill Reid. The film follows his education in the arts and in the history of the Indigenous Haida people from whom he is descended.

Sing Me a Lullaby

This documentary short unravels the complex tensions between love and sacrifice, documenting Director Tiffany Hsiung's efforts to locate and reconnect with her mother's birth family in Taiwan, following her mother's separation from her parents and adoption in childhood.

Light Years

In this documentary feature, Director Claire Marie Panke shares the journeys of three people, from three different cultures, who reshape their lives with creativity and courage. They all happen to be over 75. It took her almost a decade to make the film, since she was also working full -time as a Neonatal Nurse.

Eddy's World

This documentary short, directed by Lyn Goldfarb, the featured elder's daughter, offers a fascinating portrait of a 98-year-old working toy inventor, who lives in a retirement community. Best known for the iconic "chattering teeth" and 800 classic toys, he shares his passion for creativity and his philosophies of life and aging. At 101 years young, he's now writing 100-word blog posts.

Duty Free

After his 75-year-old mother gets fired from her job, Director Sian-Pierre Regis documents the ageism and despair in her struggle to find another job and lovingly takes her on a bucket-list adventure to reclaim her life.

Moving Forward

To whet your appetite, you can view the Film Trailers of the above six films before the Festival. After subscribing to the Film or Program, you can view interviews with the Filmakers and Artists who is/are featured in the film. These are only a sampling of over 40 films available during the Festival. View all the films or a selection of the films yourself, or give as a gift to others!

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