There’s something I enjoy about celebrating holidays abroad. Sure, I miss my mom’s perfectly roasted, moist turkey on Thanksgiving and those delicately frosted, chewy sugar cookies she continues to bake for Santa even though my younger brother is about to graduate from high school, but I enjoy the blank slate that celebrating a holiday outside my home country provides.
While living abroad, a holiday you’ve grown up with can suddenly be anything you’d like it to be. You can completely ignore it and head off the holiday stress, or you can attach new meaning to it by creating your own traditions.
One year in Pakistan, my husband and I decided to throw a Christmas party at our flat. We introduced the guests to spiced apple cider and gingerbread cookies, sang Christmas carols, and read passages about the birth of Jesus from the Bible and the Qur’an. Afterward, we watched The Nativity Story. There was no Santa, no stockings, no tree and no gigantic pile of presents, but it was fun and it gave us a meaningful way to celebrate with our local friends.
We want to hear your stories about celebrating holidays outside of your home country. Don’t simply tell us what happened – show us. We want to see how you transformed a pot of bamboo into a Christmas tree, how you taught your ESL students to color Easter eggs, or what you used in place of turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. Submissions are not limited to American holidays; tell us what it was like first celebrating Ramadan away from home, or how Diwali is different in London than it is in Delhi.
Specifically we’re looking for two types of submissions:
Articles should be driven by narrative and full of sensory details. 1000 – 1200 words is ideal. Payment per article is $25. If you’re interested in submitting, check out Matador’s contributor guidelines and submit your article via the online form.
Submissions are on a rolling basis, but we’d like to publish articles about specific holidays a few weeks before the holiday occurs. For example, if you send an article about Christmas on January 15th, we may ask you to resubmit next year.
If you have a collection of 8 to 12 strong photographs of your holiday event away from home, you can submit the collection for publication as a photo essay. Put the photos in an online album (such as at Flickr or Picasa), write 1 to 2 line captions for each photo, and send the album link to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Photo Essay Submission” in the subject line. Include a short description of your photo essay in the email. Payment per photo essay is $25 and submissions are on a rolling basis.
Editor’s Note added January 2011: Please send articles and photo essay submissions at least one month before the holiday occurs. Christmas narratives from 2010 can be submitted in October or November of 2011 for the 2011 Christmas season.