Thanks to a small number of Muslims and large chunks of the mainstream media, Islam has gained a reputation for severity and harshness. When it comes to the way we raise our children this can often be true, but usually due to our cultural backgrounds more than our faith.
I have been looking for daily family rituals as a way to reinforce values that we care about: family, community, compassion and love. What's the best way to transmit these values to our kids?
Tanabata is the Japanese star festival. To celebrate, people write their wishes on strips of colored paper called tanzaku.
Juneteenth is an American holiday that is celebrated in honor of the legal abolition of slavery.
Crafts, recipes, books, games and more to make the most of this joyful Baha'i celebration.
Find out the history as well as why "Black History Month" is a more accurate term than "African-American History Month."
Celebrate the Lunar New Year with dragon crowns, Vietnamese spring rolls, lesson plans that don't stereotype and much more!
Martin Luther King Day is observed on the third Monday of January each year in the U.S. (his birthday is January 15) and celebrates his life and vision.
Why the number 4 is bad luck, spiders are good and mirrors in the bedroom bad.
See the beautiful celebrations around the world beyond Halloween and pumpkins.
Looking for some global inspiration for Halloween this year? One of these is sure to be the hit of the night.
Living in the U.S I started the golu tradition in our home when my little girl turned five. The inevitable deficiencies and personal twists in how we celebrate it here seem to highlight how different my experiences were. Wth evites and rsvps, long drives in cars, expensive goody bags and weekend-only celebrations sometimes I feel the simple joys of the festival back home are lost.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is a popular traditional Chinese festival, probably the second biggest one after the Spring Festival.
You have a what day? The question I have encountered from locals and expatriates innumerous times throughout a decade while living and working in Shanghai, China and now, in Canada. To a person who has grown up celebrating her Name Day every year, as well as that of my mom, dad, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends and classmates, the puzzling look of people at first made me feel uncomfortable, almost apologetic, as if I’ve made up a story and now can’t proceed convincingly with my own lies. To most people, the idea of celebrating someone’s name appears amusing, if not flat-out weird.
Mosques are frequently portrayed in popular media in one of two ways: negative or evil. In the best light, mosques are seen as conservative, male-dominated places and in the worst light they are characterized as bastions of terrorism. Neither are true.
My introduction to Ramadan started early. I was 12 and my mother and Sudanese stepfather had moved us to Khartoum, Sudan. Apart from feeling a sense of displacement and missing the relatives I had left behind in ex-Yugoslavia, I also had to adjust and familiarize myself with my stepfather’s Muslim family and the country’s prevalent Muslim populace.
One of the challenges of living abroad is combining the traditions of your home culture with the traditions of your new country. Have you ever tried to hold a traditional American Thanksgiving in Kerala or a 10-year-old's birthday party in Osaka? Although there are ways to combine traditions, sometimes you just want your own type of celebration, like a Canadian Mother's Day instead of a Chinese one.
Tanabata is the Japanese star festival. To celebrate, people write their wishes on strips of colored paper called tanzaku.
Mother’s Day came and went this year without as much as a “Happy Mother’s Day” from my husband. I have to admit that my experience of special occasions in China is quite often disappointing and I wonder if it’s just a Chinese cultural thing. But I am Canadian. I have Canadian needs. Even though I live in a Chinese culture, I can’t erase my culture, nor would I want to. In Canada, Mother’s Day is a time for special treatment. So here's how I fixed it.
Children’s Day is a South Korean national holiday celebrating, you guessed right, children.
To teach a child to cherish nature and see herself within nature’s majesty and beauty and to understand the cycles of birth, life and returning to the Creator are valuable learning tools. As a society, we have largely wandered too far from our home and must return if we are to be able to continue living on this planet. As a mother I will expose my children to these ideas and teach them the beauty of respecting their home and roots in nature.
The 12-day festival Ridvan (Paradise) celebrates the founding of the Baha’i faith.
Here are five fun ways to fuss over our planet today including gardening and making a commitment to something green. Our Earth is worth it!
How this Rabbi failed at his carefully prepared Passover seder
Vaisakhi (also spelled Baisakhi) is a joyful festival celebrating the founding of the Sikh community known as the Khalsa.
Uma Krishnaswami’s book “Holi” is a non-fiction book, sparse in text and generous in color and information. When, why, how and where, are all covered in clear, unassuming language.
Passover is one of the most important holidays of the Jewish year.
Ayyam-i-Ha is a period of hospitality, charity, and gift-giving for Baha'is.
As a first generation American, you always watched other families sitting around a Christmas tree or carving a turkey, consoled by watching reruns of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But Chinese New Year—that was different. That was my holiday, the one that made waking up early exciting, slowly lulled awake by the smells of burning incense, and the 10 special dishes my mom prepared, dishes with names that alluded to prosperity and luck.
In recent years, Hanukkah has become increasingly commercialized. Perhaps in an effort to keep up with the shopping frenzy ethos of the Thanksgiving—Christmas “holiday” season, my children (and many others) have come to view Hanukkah as an eight-day present-receiving extravaganza.
For the many families who practice faiths other than Christianity, Christmas can be the source of as much angst as joy. Each year we must grapple with questions such as: How do we explain to our little ones why Santa doesn't come to our house? Is it wrong to string up some lights or put up a tree even if Christmas isn't really our holiday? More fundamentally, how do we teach our children to respect this special time without confusing them about their own religious identity?
St. Nicholas Day is a popular celebration for many children across Europe. St. Nicholas is the predecessor to Santa Claus and has a reputation for his generosity.
Thanksgiving is special to me because it shows my children that the values of gratitude and appreciation are not just Jewish values but also American values. It reinforces an integration between being Jewish and being American—that my children don’t have to choose between the two because both Judaism and American civic traditions have a place for moral instruction and celebration.
Three mindful steps we can take to ensure that our children will turn toward us not away from us during these turbulent years.
Growing up in India, Diwali was the most anticipated day of the year. Diwali meant new clothes, lots of delicious treats, lighting lamps/lights, setting off a gazillion fireworks, a sparklingly clean home and vacation from school that lasted around 10 days. But in the U.S., it's all very different.
Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a well-known holiday that, despite its motif of death, is a celebration of the lives of loved ones who have passed away.
Eid al-Adha (the Festival of Sacrifice) celebrates Ibrahim's obedience to God in nearly sacrificing his son Ishmael.
Enkutatash, the Ethiopian New Year, marks the end of the rainy reason and the beginning of the spring sunshine.
If we are honest, as parents we would all probably like to see our children join a monastery and be celibate until they are older and more mature! How many of us can forget the turbulent early years of trying to negotiate our own sexual terrain? In this article, I would like to introduce a mindful approach to sexuality and parenting.
I wondered if I had wasted my time taking my 14-year-old on a Baha'i retreat. Then she surprised me on the last day.
The Midsummer festival is a celebration of the Summer Solstice—the longest day of the year (June 21).
A Buddhist approach to dealing with the tough teenage years
Growing up, my parents made it very clear to me that we were Pakistani. However, I could relate to so many things English—literature, culture, the tolerance of difference, the beauty of the countryside. A part of me wanted to proudly say I was English. Another part of me had a very strong feeling that as a person with brown skin, who dressed and lived differently, I would be a laughing stock for saying so.
How to apply mindfulness around the difficult years of puberty. Around age eight or nine is when a child begins to transition from a magical way of perceiving the world to a more literal outlook.
When she turned 15, my daughter announced her intention to start wearing the hijab (Muslim head scarf). At the time, we had been living in Qatar for nine years and upon our arrival in Dubai she donned her first veil. Nothing prepared me for the deluge of feelings that followed.
In this particular stage between infancy and eight or nine years, our approach is to avoid indoctrination or rigidly applying the teachings. Rather we should seek to harmonize with the child’s natural inclinations. From birth to age four, we teach primarily by example because children of that age notice and imitate everything we do!
Though I've listened to Czech girlfriends cite instances where they felt Czech men (even their own fathers, uncles and brothers) took the tradition out of hand, I always assumed that if a woman said she didn't want to be whipped her wishes would be respected. I was wrong.
Though Purim is generally presented as a light-hearted, festive tale, the holiday has a darker, more somber essence. But what is the appropriate age to introduce this to my kids?
Nowruz, the Persian New Year, falls on the first day of spring of the solar calendar.
If there is one question that I am often asked as a Buddhist minister it is, "How can I raise an enlightened child?"
Holi is the Indian festival of colors. It is the celebration of the beginning of spring and represents rejuvenation and rebirth through all of the bright colors associated with the festival.
Blonde, blue-eyed, and with the exceedingly fair skin of her Swiss-German ancestors, my daughter blended well into the sea of faces in her first grade classroom. But the truth was then and is now that she feels more at home with the one Iranian Muslim family in town, which shares with us one of our major holidays—Naw Ruz—as well as the practices of fasting and daily obligatory prayer.
I belong to a faith with virtually no rituals, and holidays almost no one around me has heard of. As a Baha’i, we avoid rituals but we do worship God, have sacred writings and prayers, a rich history, a worldwide community, laws (like getting the consent of living parents before marriage), and guidelines for daily living.
Preserving kinship ties is considered to be a very important part of Islam...But doing so is not always as simple as it seems: running around to pull a meal together, trying to rugby-tackle the kids into bed whilst they are distracted by guests or having school or work the next morning, which is too few hours away.
In the Pashtun culture, we celebrate the 40th day after childbirth by the mother officially bathing, praying and giving money to charity. I followed tradition, with the knowledge that while this was a celebratory time for most mothers, I was grieving my empty womb. On my prayer mat, I cried throughout my prayer.
Imbolc is a pagan holiday celebrated in Ireland and Scotland.
The Lunar New Year is the most celebrated holiday of the year across many Asian countries.
In Chinese culture, the moon month, also translated as “sitting out the month,” “lying in” or “confinement in childbirth,” is a month-long sojourn in the home for postpartum women. Sounds great, right? Well, part of this tradition requires that women not...
Christmas is just one marker on the festive path through the holidays that culminates in Three Kings Day (El Dia de los Reyes Magos also known as Epiphany).
My first Christmas with my Ethiopian children came 10 months after they were officially adopted into our family. During the year that we settled in, we learned that one of our daughters was still heavily grieving the loss of her mother two years earlier. One of the most difficult struggles for Ella was that she was starting to forget her mother’s face.
December is the month where the kachinas, the spirits that guard over the Hopi, come down from their world at the winter solstice or Soyal. They remain with the people for the first half of year until the summer solstice.
Around 10 years ago, I stopped celebrating Christmas with my family. Then I became Muslim; I actually had a legitimate excuse to not celebrate Christmas. But when I started to go to mosque for Friday prayers, over and over again I was told about the importance of family relations
During one of our adoption homestudy visits, I remember scrambling to move a large framed print of a green devil from view in our TV room. Yet, the framed Korean mask dance figures which appeared far scarier to me at the time, remained on display. This was my choice, of course, but I felt it was dictated by expectations of our family and household. "Multiculturalism" is good, "devil" is bad.
While I had several goals for the trip to Israel, it was critically important to me that my kids saw the diversity of Jewish life in Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is the Baskin-Robbins of Jewish identity with a dazzling array of flavors.I prayed at a synagogue where some people donned bathing suits and others wore the traditional Orthodox garb.
This November, during National Adoption month, we remember the estimated 163 million orphans globally in different countries around the world, and do not forget the over 500,000 children in foster care that have no one to write a letter to.
I am grateful to have the Baha’i scriptures to draw upon in providing detailed answers to some of my daughter’s questions about death, especially several years ago when our family faced loss twice in one year, first of my brother and then of my father. It was a difficult year for our family.
I came to Amy Chua’s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, and its controversy late. Even though I never had parents who hit me or called me garbage, I could relate to a lot of what Any Chua had to say. Like Amy Chua,my parent’s held an unfailing belief that I would succeed.
My Indian heritage has defined who I have been for most of my life, that is, until I became a mother. The business of raising children makes nearly everything else fall to the back burner.The identities of “mother” and “wife” took precedence over that of “tribal member.”
I suspect those who celebrate Christmas will be familiar with the way I felt a day or so after last Eid. Having received numerous toys, the kids took a cursory look at each and then left them to one side, forgotten.
Never has the concept of attachment and the idea of letting go come more sharply in focus than when thinking about our children. In Buddhism, attachment is one of the main causes of suffering.
Although synonymous in the minds of many with sausage and beer, this family-friendly festival attracts over six million people annually.
My eldest is fascinated by comparisons of the largest tsunamis or most populated cities in the world. One night at the dinner table, he asks, “Mama, what is the tallest building in New York City?”
Next week we are heading to the Ukraine to adopt our seventh child. I have tried to block out time from my day to study Russian, but just haven’t been able to make any progress with it.
Although Muslim children do not usually fast, this does not mean that Ramadan, the holiest of months in the Islamic calendar, is not important for them. Because children are present at the breaking of the fast, often children associate fasting with food and not hunger.
One of the most contentious issues any non-Israeli Jew must face is how to think and speak about Israel. So what should I teach my kids about Israel?
In a country where women routinely consult the Chinese zodiac to determine the most auspicious date for the caesarean delivery of their babies, I was preparing for a natural childbirth in a private English hospital on the top of Hong Kong’s highest mountain in the days just after the British handover of the colony to China.
When my daughter Amrita was an infant, I had to be very careful with what I ate or her stomach would get upset...
What these parents tell their daughter about reincarnation after the death of her grandfather.
This Jewish Dad explains the difficulty of eating kosher and free range.
Nestled in the Andean highlands, quiet Peruvian villages become teeming centers of dance, music, and merrymaking.
Dating back to the times of Genghis Kahn, Naadam features fierce five-year-old horse racers, women archers and 512 hefty wrestlers.
In the past, when I have written about Islam’s perspective on child discipline, I described it as one where gentleness is preferred according to the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the examples set during his own life.
I was brought up with Passover Seders that were anything but didactic. Instead, they usually involved adults reading every English word in the Haggadah, cover to cover, and calling on the kids whenever a musical interlude was needed.
Akin to the national holiday of Quebec, Saint Jean Baptiste Day is a celebration of Francophone culture in Canada.
I had an interesting conversation with my sister-in-law recently about an old friend of hers who had moved to the States and become a Christian, despite being raised in a practising Muslim household. It made me think about what aspect of her former faith led her to believe that Islam was not for her.
So, I caved! I gave my 12-year-old Ethiopian daughter a cell phone this year. As she was heading into middle school, I realized that she needed it to stay connected to us “in case of emergencies.” Well, as you can imagine, the phone has become an invisible lifeline between my sweet Grace and her friends.
There is an oft-quoted African saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Less cited is the second half of the saying, “...and a community to keep the parents sane.”
In the summer of my tenth year, my grandmother visited us in Maine for the first time. Usually, we had always gone to see her in Canada. She arrived on the day Baha’is commemorate the Declaration of the Bab, and it seemed as though my grandmother’s arrival on this holy day was a gift from God.
Sex education is a bit of a minefield for me as a Muslim mother, as I am sure it is for most parents, whether Muslim or not. As a Muslim, I would encourage my children to view sex as a pleasurable, positive element of a happy marriage. I would remind them of the responsibilities that go with it and the Islamic perspective on it as being both quite liberal (for instance a woman’s right in Islam to sexual gratification) but also with restrictions (only having sex with someone you are married to).
I remember when I first showed my son an illustrated Bhagavad Gita—Our Most Dear Friend by Visakha. He was two years old and was too young for the text, but we gazed at the pictures together while sitting in our sunny living room as the fireplace warmed our feet.
My children tell me the story of when they were in the orphanage in Ethiopia and how they had lost hope that a family would adopt them. We adopted three children who were siblings.
Vesak (also known as Wesak) commemorates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. Casually the holiday is often referred to as the “Buddha’s birthday.”
Come April, I dream of roses. Not about planting them or about cultivating them. The roses I dream of grow only in my imagination and begin to bloom there about the third week of April, during the Baha’i festival of Ridvan, when I call to mind the intoxicating scent of the sweet flower of my childhood that once grew in my grandmother’s garden—the Peace rose.
We are about to embark on another adoption journey. This time we call it an accidental adoption but it really is more like supernatural conception and childbirth. We thought we were done.
Now that my daughter Amrita is two, the focus of my parenting has shifted from questions on navigating our way through the daily routines of life, to more philosophical ones.
I have a small poster on my fridge, now old and slightly yellowed, which my children love. It's called the "Children's Rights and Responsibilities" and lists all of the basic things to which every child is entitled. They love seeing it and having it read to them—it makes them feel that as children they matter in their own right...
In Israel almost everyone is Jewish, except of course for the Arabs with whom Jews rarely interact. As a Jew, if you decide to marry outside your religion or even do something as minor as celebrate a non-Jewish holiday in your own home, you experience a sense of betrayal.
While the deep religious significance of Easter is the same worldwide, the traditions of how Easter is celebrated vary.
Throughout much of Asia, spring is the time to observe the Buddha's birthday in Mahayana Buddhism.
What is the tradition in your culture when the baby loses his/her umbilical cord?
After the birth of my first child, there was a thought that kept crossing my mind regarding the status of mothers in Islam. Growing up I had heard of hadith (Prophetic sayings) such as, "Your paradise lies under the feet of your mother," and not given much thought to them.
The Baha'i fast is assigned a spiritual significance that can be puzzling to those from religious traditions, cultures and societies in which fasting is not widely practiced.
Only a small percentage of Christians are extending themselves for the orphan. With 163 million orphans and counting, the statistics show us that if only 7% of the over two billion Christians in the world would adopt, the orphan crisis would be eliminated.
There is a belief common in several Eastern traditions where it is said that the soul of the unborn child enters the body on the 120th day of pregnancy.
I remember my early childhood, growing up in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), as disturbing. Forced to cover my body in black from head to toe in the morning to go to school and then changing into a miniskirt to go out in the evenings was the source of much confusion for an eight-year-old girl.
One of my favorite holidays in Japan and Buddhism occurs not once, but twice a year around the spring and fall equinox: O-higan. The holiday literally translates as "the other shore."
"What's a camel doing in the closet—in the winter, in Maine?" The camel, I told the children in my daughter's class, had come all the way from the Middle East, where our religion began. She was too big to fit into a chimney, so she came right in through the front door, and the coat closet right beside that door seemed the most obvious place for her to leave the presents.
A funny thing happened one day recently as we were driving to preschool. We were talking about people who have different shades of skin (my effort to instill a we-are-the-world lesson) and Willow declared that she and I have the same skin; that she looks just like me.
A prophetic dream became reality.
Guilt seems to be an integral part of modern motherhood. It sometimes seems that no matter what you do, you are not good enough as a mother. Stay at home mothers sometimes feel they miss out on things they want to do and are accused of living through their children, going into overkill mode with every birthday party and milestone, turning their children into spoilt, selfish little monsters.
Amrita was born at home, in water, and for the first 6 weeks of her life, our house was her whole world. In the Sikh tradition, the mother and child do not leave home for 40 days, and are cared for by a sevadar.
The Chinese New Year is the most celebrated holiday of the year in China. It takes place on the first day of the first new moon after the winter solstice in the lunar calendar. Socially, it is a time for being with friends and relatives and the greater significance is of flushing out the old and welcoming in the new.
Growing up in a traditional Armenian home in Southern California, we had many superstitions and rituals. My mother was and still is the queen of superstition. Here are just a few of the many superstitions we followed: No whistling especially at night or evil spirits will come. No cutting your nails at night. This will shorten your life.
My daughter has recently reached four years old, and has blossomed mentally and physically. What surprises me at this age is how her mind has matured and how she picks up on things that I might overlook. Recently, she started to imitate the Buddha seated in meditation as a joke.
The bleak midwinter months test our patience, but for our children, as for ourselves, the season offers opportunities for growth. Nature may be sleeping, but the human soul is not. The dynamic process of spiritual growth is unstoppable.
I felt a connection to a woman who had lived across the continent in Ethiopia. We had never met. She was the birth mother of my three Ethiopian kids and died of AIDS. I can honestly say that I felt a call from her heart to "mother" her children via adoption.
I am not close with members of my family of origin, nor do I live near any of its members. Since my husband is not Jewish, any efforts to raise our four-year-old daughter with a sense of her Jewish maternal heritage rest, naturally, with me.
The Japanese New Year, shogatsu, spans several days from December 31st to January 3rd. It is the most important holiday of the year in Japan.
I was raised with a balance of spiritual exposure and inspiration from Sikhism and Paramahansa Yogananda. Even though Yogananda is my Guru, I do not feel the need to choose one path. I believe all religions are different faces of the same God.
Armenian Christmas, also known as Theophany, is celebrated one day before the Orthodox Christmas. Although Armenia follows the Gregorian calendar, when the Romans changed the date of Christmas to December 25 in the fourth century, Armenians held to the original January 6th date.
New Year's is a huge festivity in Japan, larger than any other holiday observed there. After my first experience in 2008, I couldn't help thinking that it was Christmas and Thanksgiving in the U.S. all rolled into one three-day festivity.
Christmas is a favourite time of year for most people, parties, gifts, special foods and family traditions--what is not to like? But for most Muslim's this time of year always brings with it a host of issues to consider: should we participate? Should we join in the office parties and games of Secret Santa? Or should we avoid the celebration totally, writing it off as not part of our faith.
It is the season of stars--the star that led the magi to the Christ child; the Star of David, central symbol of the Jewish people, which shines so brightly on the world during the celebration of Hanukkah; and the nine-pointed Baha'i star that rises a little later in the winter season, in February, during Ayyam-i-Ha, the five days of hospitality and gift-giving that precede the Baha'i fast.
We belong to an international Christian church that is very diverse. We are blessed to have people from all different nations available to help us with cultural differences in raising our children.
I had my parents quite nervous about whether or not I would ever get married and have a family. No one was quite sure when I would run off to the Himalayas and I am sure there was some heavy betting going on with high odds that I was going to do just that. Well, I am glad I didn't run off, as there was never any need to and I am glad I decided to get married and make babies. My wife was completely floored when I proposed.
Now I find myself again in a period of conflict, this time with my own parents, a situation that quickly grew from a cinder into a raging fire consuming the entire acreage of our history together.
Hanukkah, meaning "dedication" in Hebrew, celebrates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Jews defeated the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks).
When I think of my daughter some day spreading her wings and heading off into the world on her own, I feel a mix of pangs of personal loss combined with an incredible excitement for the experiences that lay before her. Where will she go? Whom will she meet? What will she experience? Who will she become?
For most Americans or residents in the West, December is synonymous with certain holidays like Christmas or Hanukkah. I can fondly remember Christmas morning at my grandmother's house, opening presents, seeing beloved relatives and having a large feast before trundling home sleepy and well fed. Everything seemed more festive, brighter and larger as a child. But times are somewhat different for me now. My Japanese wife and I are raising our little girl Buddhist, which presents some challenges in a country where Buddhism is little understood and hardly visible.
How one family celebrates the biggest Muslim holiday
I am facing one of the biggest challenges I have ever met: how to raise good Muslims. I have always found progress very easy in my academic and working life and have enjoyed the feeling of sailing through these spheres most of the time. This leads a person to the feeling, especially when you are young, that you are oh-so-clever.
I can remember as a small child thinking that every family was just like my own; I had no base of experience to think otherwise. As I grew I discovered what a rich and diverse world we live in. Every parent must look at their life and choose the experiences that they want to repeat with their children. What kind of home world does one want to create? What traditions and beliefs do they want to share and instill? For some, it will be something very close to their own upbringing, and for others it will be entirely different
Buddhism began for me as it did for many converts in the West: I saw an inspiring TV show about Asian philosophy at the age of 16, read some books and began meditating. But by college I felt myself wavering and leaving Buddhism for something more stimulating only to get bored again and move on once more.
The Baha'i faith was born in the spring, in 1863, in a garden in Baghdad. During Ridvan, the festival that commemorates that beginning, Baha'is around the world celebrate the declaration of Baha'u'llah, whose claim to be the Promised One foretold by all the religions of the past was astonishing to some, incredible to others and to a few, the answer to long search and much prayer.
Both my husband and myself are used to living our lives as members of minorities...Perhaps it allows us to be fitting parents to our daughter, who, like each of us, was born into a culture (Chinese) quite different than the one in which she resides (American).
Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is one of the most vibrant and exciting Hindu celebrations.
The first major difficulty in my multicultural marriage was over circumcision. The Turkish custom of circumcision was the first custom I downright refused to go along with.