Originally, I was assigned to write an article for this issue about holidays that take place around Christmastime, as the coverage of holidays like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and winter solstice is dwarfed by the coverage of Christmas. No sooner had I set out to find these people that problems arose.
It was difficult finding people who celebrated Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or solstice who were willing to go on record, as talking openly about religious practices can be considered taboo. I found two people: a Jewish student who preferred to remain unnamed and a pagan who spent more time bashing the practices of others than she did relating her own.
The question to take from this experience is “why?” Why is it people are so averse to talking about practices outside of what we consider the norm?
People have conversations about their Christmas activities all of the time, yet it’s very seldom we hear someone open up about how they celebrated Kwanzaa. I can’t exactly say what the reason is, be it because of media or society, but as someone who celebrates Christmas, I believe it’s wrong to write off these other holidays.
As the anonymous commenter said, “It really does suck not to have your holiday recognized by the general public. I think it’s a little disrespectful.”
Another student I interviewed said these holidays were given less recognition because Christmas has long been hyped up as the year’s biggest holiday, one where companies make their fortunes. If this is true, then these companies are shortsighted, as both Hanukkah and Kwanzaa involve the exchanging of gifts as well. One would assume the most efficient way to make money would be to give airtime to all three holidays, right? So where are all of the Hanukkah and solstice television specials around this time of the year?
Yes, Hanukkah is only just one of many Jewish holidays and Kwanzaa is a fairly new religion, having only been around since the mid-1960s; however, these holidays are the second and third most recognized holidays in the country. Additionally, the people who celebrate them are massively unrepresented.
So next time you talk about the upcoming semester break, instead of calling it “Christmas break,” try “holiday break” instead.