9 Ways We Make Yennayer Special for Our Children While Living in the United States

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Our Multicultural Family

My family is multicultural and multireligious and stems from four continents: Asia, Africa, North America, and Europe. This means that we have a variety of New Year celebrations including the Punjabi New Year, Islamic Year, Gregorian New Year, and the Amazigh/ Berber New Year. My husband comes from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and is ethnically Amazigh/ Berber. He just reminded me that Yennayer, the Amazigh/Berber, New Year will be coming up this week.

Who are  Imazighen and what is Yennayer?

Berbers or Imazighen are an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa, specifically Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania, and Mali. Yennayer is the first month of the Amazigh year that’s been used since antiquity by the Imazighen in North Africa.

Traditions

There are many traditions associated with the Amazigh New Year depending on what North African country a person comes from. This includes making couscous, family gatherings, making a special type of semolina porridge, playing games, and more. Our family doesn’t follow any specific traditions yet. We are in the process of creating them. It’s important for my children to understand and embrace all parts of their identity.

9 Ways We Make Yennayer Special for Our Children

  1. Dress up the children in traditonal clothing
  2. Teach children the traditonal Amazigh greetings
  3. Listen to Amazigh Songs
  4. Color the Amazigh flag
  5. Serve Moroccan treats and Moroccan tea
  6. Call family in Morocco
  7. Discuss Amazigh history and cutlure with my children
  8. Read children’s books related to Amazigh culture
  9. Write our names in the Tifinagh alphabet
Baghrir, a traditional North African pancake

Year 2972

This year we decided to make baghrir and harcha, a type of Moroccan pancake. We also listened to some of my husband’s favorite songs in Tashleheet. My husband taught the children how to say the Amazigh New Year greeting “Asgass Ambarky”. We read Mirror by Jeannie Baker and my book, Naseem’s Journey because they discuss Amazigh culture. We called my family in Morocco and colored the Moroccan flag. Our day wasn’t as traditional as it would have been if we were in Morocco but we enjoyed spending the day honoring their Amazigh heritage.

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