When asked to share their fondest childhood memories, most adults will reminisce about family holidays. Whether it was crazy Uncle Pete causing a ruckus at Christmas dinner or the entire family stuffed into one station wagon for a week-long road trip, holiday memories tend to be the ones we remember the most. For me, it was the infamous road trip where I had to share the back seat of the van with my younger sister…and 40 of her stuffed animals.
Thankfully, expensive vacations and kooky extended family are not mandatory requirements for creating great family memories! By celebrating a foreign holiday, you can turn a standard weeknight meal into an international soiree. Better yet, you’ll engage the entire family while learning a little piece of international culture at the same time.
This list of international holidays and the following helpful tips will provide the inspiration you need to turn the family dining room into a Spanish fiesta, French fête, or any other colorful feast!
From Ho-hum to Ho-down
- Let the kids create the country flag with construction paper. If they’re older, charge them with the additional task of searching for the flag online.
- Find dinner and dessert recipes that hail from the country you are celebrating. Free recipe communities like AllRecipes.com also have articles on international cuisine to get you started. If you’re short on time, find an authentic restaurant in your area that offers takeout.
- Visit your local dollar store for colorful plates and napkins in the country’s national colors.
- Search Wikipedia or the country’s tourism bureau website to find a short list of interesting facts to discuss at the dinner table.
- Add some festive ambiance by tuning into SHOUTcast.com and searching the international radio channels for authentic background music.
Ideas To Get You Started:
- Epiphany: Many European countries celebrate Epiphany on the first Sunday after January 1 by eating the gâteau des Rois, an almond-paste pastry cake baked with a plastic figurine of a king hidden inside. The lucky person who gets the piece of cake containing the trinket is crowned King for a day.
- St. Patrick’s Day (March 17): Celebrate this quirky Irish holiday by serving a green dessert, decorating the table with shamrocks and having a prize for the family member who wears the most green.
- Navy Day, Chile (May 21): Dia de las Glorias Navales is a public holiday to acknowledge the Chilean Navy. The sailor-themed celebration offers endless decor possibilities and a chance to be thankful for our own armed forces.
With a little preparation and creativity, the whole family will look forward to these out-of-the-ordinary dinners which could easily become a new family tradition. Now tell me, what’s your favorite international holiday to celebrate?