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Celebrating Foreign Holidays Does Not Undermine Eritrean Cultures

Young Eritrean lovers from the U.S. visiting Paris - Credit Robel Abraham

Celebrating Foreign Holidays Does Not Undermine Eritrean Cultures

By Sheshy Kidane,

There are some Eritreans who feel certain Western holidays like Valentine's Day should not be celebrated because it's not part of our culture. Although I find it to be a valid point, I'm going to disagree. I feel the culture police within our communities should examine our long history of embracing foreign holidays, religions and cultures before making such statements.

For starters, what is our culture? Since religion plays a dominant role in shaping most cultures, can we really say Christianity and Islam are part of Eritrea's indigenous religions and cultures? More importantly, why is it okay for our ancestors to accept foreign religions and cultures over their own but when we do the same thing, we are told it goes against our culture — a culture heavily influenced by foreigners?

The truth is, all cultures are constantly changing and evolving. What we claim to be our indigenous culture is really a mix of traditional and global influences that our ancestors would find different from theirs. For example, if we were to show citizens of Asmara from the 19th century of the modern culture of today's Asmara, they would consider it very different from their own. But this isn't limited to Eritrea, every culture experiences some significant change every two or three generations.

Yes, I'm aware that Valentine's Day is a commercialized holiday centered around red roses, Hallmark cards, and chocolates. I also think many of the arguments against the holiday are valid. But for some to say Eritreans shouldn't celebrate Valentine's Day over cultural concerns is silly because all religious holidays we celebrate are foreign in origins and are very much commercialized.

In a globalized world, we shouldn't have the mindset of trying to preserve our culture; we should have the mindset of trying to advance it. Not experiencing foreign holidays and cultures is counterproductive to advancing our own. Western cultures dominate the world not because they did a good job of preserving their own cultures, but because of experiencing and incorporating different cultures from around the world. That is what we should strive to be, so one day, we can export our culture to the West instead of being on the receiving end of their cultural imperialism. Until then,

 Happy Valentine's Day!

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Celebrating Foreign Holidays Does Not Undermine Eritrean Cultures Reviewed by Admin on 4:04 AM Rating: 5

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