In the United States, no matter where you go from mid November to the end of December, you will see Christmas trees and the images of them everywhere you go. It’s a good thing we tend to enjoy this iconic tree or else it might seem a little over-the-top. My guess is that for those who don’t practice Christianity, Christmas in America might appear that way sometimes. As I just looked up “Religion in the United States,” the search result states that 73% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. If this number is accurate, that still leaves almost a third of American people that do not celebrate a traditional Christmas. Whatever celebration your household partakes in, it is important to be respectful of everyone else and the celebration they hold near to them.
No matter what holiday may be celebrated such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Ashura (Islam), or any other holiday, many common themes exist:
• Family togetherness is paramount.
• Religious service and observation is an important part of the holidays.
• A shared meal with family recipes passed down from generations is also a favorite aspect.
• Gift-giving and generosity towards others are common throughout.
In fact, the more you look at all of the different religious holidays and add up all the unique positive characteristics of each, it seems like each is worth a proper celebration. However, adherence to a specific religion will offer a specific story that defines the holiday celebration. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but let’s also focus on what brings us together and not just the differences involved.
We get swept up in the holiday season so much that it’s almost like we have complete tunnel vision. It’s not like we need to force cultural holiday exchanges every December (although that does sound kind of cool), but it probably wouldn’t hurt to try to be more aware of the holiday celebrations of our co-workers, neighbors, and the friends of our children. There are probably some amazing festivals and displays happening nearby right now that would be perfect to take in, reflect upon and learn about celebrations from other cultures.
A common theme during the holidays is “Peace on Earth”. I think the more we learn about others, the closer we will get to this amazing idea.