Two Faiths Unite For Holiday Tradition

SMU Sociology Professor DaHlia Abdelhady talks about crafting holiday traditions when members of a family are of different faiths.

By BJ Austin

DALLAS, TX (KERA) — North Texas families celebrate the holiday season in many ways. As part of our Holiday Traditions project, KERA has been collecting their stories. KERA's BJ Austin has the story of one family whose holiday preparations include soaking the chicken wings in saki and making "prayer flags" for the Tree.

Holiday bells provide a soundtrack for many family celebrations during the holiday season. For one Dallas family, those bells sound a bit different.

Kineta Massey was raised Buddhist by her parents. They came from Southern Baptist and Episcopalian backgrounds before embracing a Japanese form of Buddhism called Nicherin Daishonin. Massey says that didn't stop the family from celebrating Christmas.

Massey: My parents felt like it was important for us to experience all of it. It was always very open that there is no right or wrong way to celebrate. There's a picture somewhere.. ah you see our butsudan, which is our shrine. So there's a Christmas Tree on one side and then there's the butsudan on the other --- which is pretty much how my family was.

Family and the sense of belonging are the keys to blended holiday traditions, according to SMU sociologist, DaHlia Abdelhady.

Abdelhady: So, these traditions, they're not necessarily made up, they're just borrowed. And these traditions and activities, they're flexible that way. They're also ways people feel connected to other cultures, and it's fun. There are a number of reasons why people would want to do them.

Abdelhady says her family is in Egypt, and she misses the holidays and traditions she used to roll her eyes at when she was much younger.

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