For most families December 26 is just another day building up towards the New Year's celebration. Yet for the Steinke family it is a chance to celebrate their Canadian heritage by throwing a Boxing Day party.
"I think it's important for my children to remember their cultural identities," said Dr. Roy Steinke. "Canadians are very similar to Americans, but Boxing Day is one of the few things that sets them apart."
Dr. Steinke was raised in Manitoba and his wife, Liz, was raised in Saskatchewan. They moved from Quebec to California on December 21 of 1978 after some of their Canadian friends had emigrated. They have been celebrating Boxing Day here in Fresno since 1980.
"Some of the families that come to celebrate the holiday with us are from Canada but live in Sanger so it is the only time of the year we really get to see them," said Kate Steinke, '01. "The others are family friends, and the same people come every year."
According to tradition Boxing Day is a time when British and Canadian families collect things to donate to the people who serve them as a gesture of thanks. The Steinke family uses this opportunity to give gifts to the mailman and the gardener but the focal point of the celebration is the party.
"In our family Christmas is a day we spend only with our immediate family," said Liz Steinke. "Boxing Day is the day we spend with our friends. My parents started that tradition when I was about eight years old, and it has been that way ever since."
Outside of Boxing Day, the other Canadian holidays are remembered but not celebrated by the Steinkes. Queen Victoria's birthday is May 24 and Canada Day, the counterpart to our Independence Day, is July 1.
"When people find out we're Canadian they ask if my family ends every sentence with 'eh?'" said Kate Steinke, '01. "Except for Johann, that's just a myth. It's really the only kind of stereotyping I have encountered though."
The Steinkes have actually used their Canadian heritage to avoid negative prejudices foreign countries have against Americans. When traveling abroad they have used their Canadian passports instead of ones from the United States in some situations.
"In Europe it can be easier to use our Canadian passports because the country is neutral," said Liz Steinke. "It is part of the Commonwealth so Canadians are very well-liked in other countries that are part of it as well. Sometimes they just treat us differently if that's how we identify ourselves."
The Steinkes have combined the traditional approach to Boxing Day with the opportunity to gather family and friends. What they have created is a unique family tradition.
"This year will be my family's 19th Annual Boxing Day celebration in Fresno," said Laura Steinke, '00. "I love having the party, and it's a tradition I will continue one day with my own family."
-From The Charger, BHS School Newspaper
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