Recognize and respect all winter celebrations – not just Christmas


Adrienne Gaylord

Christmas isn’t only winter holiday celebrated. Others include Hanukkah, Diwali, Kwanzaa and numerous celebrations around the winter solstice.

The winter is full of holiday spirit; it includes many diverse celebrations from a variety of religions. However, Christmas tends to dominate as the “main” winter holiday while other celebrations are pushed to the side and ignored. No matter what religion one aligns with or what winter celebration one chooses to participate in, it is important to educate yourself about the other celebrations, respect them, and recognize their importance.
Here is a rundown of some, but not all, of the celebrations occurring in the winter holiday season: Christmas, celebrated on Dec. 25, is a sacred Christian religious holiday practiced by both Christian and non-Christian people worldwide. It is celebrated as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus. This year, Hanukkah starts on Dec. 10 and ends on Dec. 18. The 8 day Jewish celebration marks the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. Diwali was celebrated on Nov. 14 this year. It is celebrated by Hinduism, along with Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism as well, and commemorates many stories about the triumph of good over evil. The festival typically lasts 5 days, and is one of the main holidays celebrated in India. Kwanzaa is a celebration of African-American culture celebrated starting on Dec. 26 and ending on Jan. 1. It was first celebrated in 1966; each day of Kwanzaa emphasizes a different one of the 7 principles created by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Many cultures around the world celebrate holidays surrounding the winter solstice. Shab-e Yalda, or Yalda night, is an Iranian festival that celebrates the longest night of the year. The Zuni people, one of the Native pueblo peoples in New Mexico, conduct Shalako, a series of dances and celebrations, in honor of the winter solstice and to signify the beginning of the new year.
These are just a select few of the many celebrations in the winter season practiced throughout the United States and the world. Christmas is centralized, while other celebrations are marginalized in comparison; just because Christmas may be most popular or celebrated within our own cultures, that doesn’t mean that the other religions and celebrations should be viewed as less important. Each and every practice and celebration should be respected and learned about in order for the religions besides Christianity or Catholicism to be regarded and respected as just as important and valued in our community. In addition, due to the wide variety of celebrations and religions, it is important to not assume that everyone will be celebrating Christmas; include all practices and religions in your conversations about the holiday season.