My husband Rocky and I just returned from the Festival of Nations. This is an annual weekend-long event in Tower Grove Park celebrating the wealth of ideas, cultures and traditions of St. Louis’s immigrants. I dearly love this celebration of the newer members of our community, such as our Bosnian, Vietnamese, and Cajun neighbors; as well as the cultures and traditions which have been a part of our community for more than a hundred years, like the Germans, Irish, and African Americans of St. Louis.
Our main goal when we stopped by the festival was to have some lunch. We made our way down the row of thirty-nine food booths, mouths watering at the difficult decisions to be made between Somalian or Kurdish, Peruvian or Polish, Haitian or Soul Food, and oh so many more options still to come! As we searched for our lunch I was amazed at the numbers of people along the path. We were part of a constantly moving and growing stream of people who came to enjoy the sights, sounds, and flavors of our immigrant brothers and sisters.
Viewing this event with the eyes of a Celebrant, I see an emerging society where people from different backgrounds and cultures will look for meaningful opportunities to share their strengths and to celebrate their rich traditions. This is never truer than when people from different cultures begin to intermarry. Celebrants are trained to make use of rituals from diverse traditions, honoring the heritages of both families whose next generation wants to build a life together.
As I eat my Iranian lentils and rice, I look forward to countless opportunities to co-create wedding ceremonies with couples from rich and varied backgrounds, to celebrate the beauty and joy of their traditions as they join their lives in marriage.