The Season of Giving, Joy…and Diversity

The importance of learning about the various celebrations this season

Maya Garrow

As the cold settles around our small New England town of EL, people are preparing for the holidays. Lights and decorations are strung around lamp posts as music pours out of windows and into the snow-ridden streets.

While many people consider this to be “Christmas-time,” there are plenty of people who have other celebrations during December. Gaining new perspectives about other cultures and religions and their traditions makes learning about them a worthwhile endeavor.

Here at ELHS, the Cultural Awareness Club learns about religions and their holidays, such as the Diwali celebration they did in late October. Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is very important in Hinduism; it celebrates humanity’s ability to overcome evil. The club has more plans for the winter. They plan to celebrate the Jewish holiday, Hanukkah this December, as well as the Lunar New Year later in the season.

“I think it’s important to learn about other cultures, to understand why people make the choices that they do,” Cultural Awareness Club advisor Victoria Thomson said. She thinks it’s extremely important to understand and respect other people’s beliefs.

Despite Christmas in America being so widely advertised, many people don’t know about the other Christian holidays during December that are celebrated around the globe.

Apart from Christmas, in many Hispanic countries, Las Posadas is celebrated Dec. 16-24, as well as Three Kings Day on Jan. 6. In certain European countries there is Boxing Day too. All of these celebrations are personal for those who participate as it shows how culture and family can enhance the holidays.

“Be open and invite in things that are different from what you know, because you never know what you might find,” Ms. Thomson said.