Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Multicultural Santas! Take the good and make it your own.

According to a Fox newscaster Santa and Jesus were both white - now there's some hard-hitting journalism for you.  Thankfully this pronouncement hasn't stopped people from other cultures from building on the good that Santa can do for those in need.  In Texas there are three Pancho Claus'. One wears a serape, sombrero and long grey beard.  He visits schools, churches, parks and supermarkets and gives gifts and fruit to children.  He is supported and loved by his community and his Pancho Claus outfit helps him coordinate giving to those in need.  The second Pancho Claus in Texas has a totally different take on the outfit - he wears a red and black zoot suit, fedora hat and drives a low rider while throwing out stuffed animals to the children.  And finally, the Pancho Claus in San Antonio wears a sombrero and red Santa outfit while walking with his burro and cart filled with turkeys and trimmings for 50 needy families.  One of the exciting things for me about experiencing other cultures is examining how and why I do things as an American midwesterner and how and why others do things in their culture.  The best part is taking the good from whatever culture you're in and mixing it together to make it your own.  A Pancho Claus seems like the perfect way to co-opt what some see as an exclusive white privilege, make it your own and bring kindness and giving to your own community.  The next step will be for mainstream Americans to start seeing the beautiful traditions in cultures different from their own and start integrating them in meaningful ways.  What if mainstream Americans decided that celebrating New Year's was about more than drinking and eating too much and then setting a goal to lose 20 pounds?  What cultural traditions have you experienced that you recommend for mainstream Americans?  How might that benefit our society?

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