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A reflection on celebrating Newroz while away from my beloved Kurdistan

Piremerd

 

Newroz is a new year celebration which welcomes spring and new life. It is celebrated across faiths and borders in the middle east. As a Kurd growing up in the UK, Newroz was always a very special time in our family. In preparation for this special day we would spring clean, decorate our home, we had new clothes and special food prepared. The smell of kulicha would fill our home the night before Newroz! We would call all our family and friends around the world and wish each other Newroz Piroz. Music and good food were always a vital part of our celebrations, followed by lots of family visits and attending a Newroz party within the Kurdish community!

But, these celebrations are nothing compared to how we celebrate in Kurdistan. I miss the smell of nergis flowers in the air, I miss seeing everyone in colourful Kurdish attire on Newroz day. Even strangers wish you a happy Newroz as they walk past. I miss kissing my grandparents hands and wishing them a happy Newroz.

It is now more important than ever to emphasise the importance of Newroz within our families and especially for our children. Living in diaspora, we are exposed to festivities from various cultures and religion. However, Newroz isn’t celebrated by the general public as it is in Kurdistan, so this celebration should have a big presence in our lives and our children’s memories. I have learnt Newroz traditions from my parents which I must carry forward even though I live away from my beloved Kurdistan.  My children are from a mixed heritage, and this makes it even more important that they recognise Newroz and feel excited as it approaches every year. I want them to practice, understand and share the celebration of Newroz proudly!

This year we started to speak about Newroz a few weeks in advance and the children started to ask questions and asked for a bunch of nergis flowers. Just that request made me feel emotional; they already associate nergis flowers with Newroz!

This year; the week before Newroz, the bedtime stories for them were about the history of Newroz and my memories of Newroz in Kurdistan. When the special day finally arrived; unfortunately, it is not a public holiday for us, so before school and work, we all woke to a decorated home, presents and a special breakfast! I made a ‘Newroz Piroz’ cake for my eldest daughter to share with her classmates, and her class spent the day learning about Newroz! As a Kurdish Mother, the recognition her teachers gave to this festivity was a relief and important. In the evening, we all enjoyed our family favourite cake, some dancing and music and sharing of presents.

As I watched my children’s joy when saying newroz piroz on the phone to family members, I felt deeply nostalgic. I missed my childhood when I didn’t have to plan and worry about how to celebrate this festivity. I wished my children could be amongst the mountains in Kurdistan dancing hand in hand with their friends and dressed in beautiful sparkly Krasi Kurdi. But I was also relieved and comforted from seeing them so happy and excited! They told me to keep up the decorations, and we are due to attend a Newroz party on Mother’s day, so what better way for me as a Kurdish mother to celebrate mother’s day, than to go and enjoy myself surrounded by other Kurds!

The 5 things we do every Newroz, which begin to excite our children for the arrival of Newroz:

1)            Decorate our home, wear new clothes and share presents

2)            Bake special sweet treats with my children

3)            Henna designs and face paint for myself and daughters

4)            Kurdish food and Kurdish music within our home

5)            Retell the history and meaning of Newroz

Regardless of the distance from Kurdistan and from Kurdish family and friends, I will always carry forward our Newroz traditions and customs. It tells the story of our ancient rooted history; it enables my children to know where they come from and how we got here, and to embed these roots into their lives and hearts. I hope they will continue to appreciate, celebrate and share the celebration of Newroz in their lives and future homes.

I hope you enjoyed celebrating Newroz this year. I wish for you a prosperous, joyful and beautiful new year surrounded by your loved ones to take you into next Newroz!

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Filed under Food, Kurdistan, Uncategorized

As the dreaded day approaches…

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Last year, I struggled a lot as my firstborn child, my 4 year old daughter, ran into her classroom on her first day of school. I knew I wouldn’t cope well, but my younger daughter helped. She was with me, to hold my hand with her little fingers, she was there to make me laugh endlessly and she was there for all the extra cuddles and kisses I needed. At the end of this week, it will be her turn to attend nursery for the first time.

In the UK, there is a home visit and settling in period when children start school or nursery. This puts both children and parents at ease, it helps to know each child better and to create an understanding, comforting and strong relationship between staff, parents and children. It also enables staff members to see the environment in which a child lives, which certainly affects their well-being. I believe everyone would benefit immensely if we had this practice in Kurdistan too. As a nation we deeply love and cherish children, especially in modern days, we encourage education and equality for both girls and boys. Therefore, processes like settling in periods and home visits should be emulated in order for a smooth transition and communication.

Although I now also have a 3 month old baby, I feel as though I am losing a huge part of the laughter and joy in my days. I have known this day will come for a while now, but I feel mentally and emotionally unprepared.

As a baby, she went through major separation anxiety for a few months; I couldn’t even leave a room without her crying her heart out. On her first day at nursery, I will be the one to experience that separation anxiety; I might even take a comforter with me, in the form of a piece of cake and packet of tissues haha! For she lights up my days, my sleepy mornings and my tired evenings. She has flourished into a superb, hilarious, considerate and adventurous awesome individual!

Although she still seems to be stuck by my side all the time, and she will argue with everyone in the family who dares to sit closer to me than she may be, I’m certain she will love and light up the nursery with her presence and her wonderful character. While I lose a great friend for some hours every day, the nursery staff and her peers will gain the most incredible, funny and affectionate little friend they could ever have!

Some days, she pushes me to the very edge when she refuses to acknowledge me as I talk to her, when she knowingly does something she isn’t allowed to whilst laughing to herself and when she eats my food every time I dare to leave the room. Yet, I will miss it all, I will miss her sweet little face, that spark in her eyes, her rosy cheeks, her warm and soft little hands that always slip into mine as we walk, her proud stompy walk and the sweet yet demanding voice she uses to ask for treats!

I know she will always be there to comfort her friends, I know she will be singing throughout every activity and I know she will probably come home muddy and messy. But what I know most of all, is that I am already missing her and I envision her running into my arms when I pick her up, wrapping her little arms around me, pouting and saying ‘I mishhhed [miss] you mummy’.

I always use my father’s wisdom to get through challenging stages such as this one. He always tells me, “There is goodness in every phase of life. When your days are busy and loud, enjoy it. When they are quiet, enjoy it also. When you work enjoy being productive, when you don’t work, enjoy all you do in your time.”

So I will enjoy some of the silence, warm cups of tea and cosy cuddles with my newborn baby, before everyone is home again; bombarding me with all their news of the day and all the glorious art work/ notes they will bring me home. That’s when I know I did cross their minds, they actually missed me too, and all will be well in the world again.

I wish everyone smooth transitions as your children settle into nursery. We are sending incredible little human beings out to discover and put their marks on the world, so congratulations to us all in this new phase in our lives!

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Filed under Childcare, Newborn, Uncategorized