Students have less than a month of school between the Thanksgiving and winter breaks to spend most of their time making hot chocolate and engaging in the serious warfare that is snowball fighting (college students are no exception). Gifts are bought by the young and old alike in anticipation of seeing the recipients’ face light up with joy as they open their presents. And, perhaps most importantly, wearing Christmas sweaters is acceptable and in some cases even encouraged.
Bearing these features of the holiday season in mind, it can be argued that the most important aspect of the holiday season is the celebration of diversity and the permeating sense of bliss and togetherness. Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah all take place during roughly the same time period and all share similar spirits despite having dissimilar purposes for celebrating.
Beyond the overt definitions of each of these holidays, the general celebration is the togetherness of man. Indeed, Kwanzaa is described on its official website as a “reaffirmation of the dignity of the human person in community and culture.” Similarly, Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, a figure who emphasized the importance of loving one’s fellow man, and Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Jewish over the Greeks in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent re-dedication of the Holy Temple, an event that stands in time as one of the biggest symbols of religious freedom. The celebration of this re-dedication is also a celebration of Judaism itself, a religion that values kindness, compassion and forgiveness.
It is important as privileged citizens of the United States to remember the origins of the holidays we enjoy and to appreciate both the fact that we have the freedom to practice any religion that we so choose and the fact that diversity is encouraged and celebrated in this country.
“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities” –Stephen R. Covey