Cross-Cultural Understandings of Festival Food-Related Activities for Older Women in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Eastern Kentucky, USA and Auckland, New Zealand

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This cross-country, cross-cultural study explored the meaning of older women’s food-related activities for the annual festivals of Songkran (Thai New Year) in Chiang Mai, Thailand; and Christmas in Richmond, Kentucky, USA; and Auckland, New Zealand. A derived etic method was used. The community-dwelling participants were 33 Thai women, aged 60 and older, and 16 New Zealand and 23 eastern Kentucky women, aged 65 and older. This article focuses on the final cross-cultural analysis of the data. Emic, or within-country, findings are presented, followed by the derived etic, or cross-cultural, interpretations for two themes of meaning; older women’s ‘protecting what matters’ and ‘leading the way’. Applying derived etic methods helped reveal how, despite the highly different food-related practices, preparing and sharing celebratory foods at Songkran or Christmas held related meanings for older women in Thailand, Kentucky USA, and New Zealand.