Home Editorials Enjoying, respecting the holiday season

Enjoying, respecting the holiday season

by William T. Robinson, Jr
William T. Robinson, Jr.

The holiday season began with Thanksgiving and ends with New Year’s Eve—encompassing other spiritual holidays and celebrations such as Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. The holiday season should be a time to reflect the love and humanity we all share, bringing us closer together in respect for each other promoting goodwill and unity. Thanksgivings and New Years Eve are holidays we all celebrate in unison during the Holiday Season but some holidays and observances during this period are celebrated and enjoyed by select groups.

Holidays found in December such as Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa are respected among their observers but not celebrated or recognized by everyone. These are holidays and celebrations that are revered and special to observers, but should be respected by non participants. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some people are indifferent as to respecting other groups, especially as relates to their religious practices and traditions.

While all people are not monolithic in what they believe, that shouldn’t make one disrespectful of different group’s beliefs. Remember we are a country that claims to appreciate diversity. But all too often we tend to push or promote Eurocentric assimilation. We all bring something to the table, and it shouldn’t divide us. It should make us more appreciative of others’ contributions and traditions.

People observing their special holidays shouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable when others disclaim the significance of their observance. You don’t have to participate in everyone’s observance, but don’t disrespect followers of a certain faith or those manifesting cultural traditions and beliefs—as long as it doesn’t cause harm or promote hate toward others. For example: A non Christian shouldn’t get mad at someone for saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to them or at a Jew wishing them ‘Happy Hanukkah.’

As a devout Christian, I am going to celebrate Christmas. It is one of the most holy days of the year for Christians. One shouldn’t be offended by the spiritual significance and fanfare given to Christmas by those wishing someone a ‘Merry Christmas.’ It shouldn’t be frowned upon. Those wishing others a ‘Merry Christmas’ mean no harm or ill will, and shouldn’t have to apologize or feel offended for practicing what they believe when offering cheer and good will. The same should hold true to those celebrating Hanukkah.

Those of the Jewish faith shouldn’t have to apologize or minimize their celebration of Hanukkah because a handful of opponents can’t relate or feel offended. Remember one of the major tenets this country was founded on was freedom of religion.

We should all openly embrace the holiday season with a joyous and loving heart with love and joy for all God’s children. If your religious practice is not one demonstrating love for others then it is not of God, because God is love. Showing intolerance, disrespect, or hate for others that don’t religiously believe as you do is unacceptable and should be discouraged.

Kwanzaa is a growing celebration that isn’t embraced by all Americans during the holiday season. Kwanzaa is an African American cultural celebration occurring from December 26 through the January 1. It honors African Americans’ culture and traditions inspiring and promoting unity among African Americans through loving, supporting, and respecting each other. While not a religious holiday, Kwanzaa celebrates African American cultural heritage and traditional values helping to promotes goodwill and unity.

When all is said and done, we should conclude that the holiday season is meant to be inclusive. It should remind us to respect and love each other and be the ‘best we can be’ to better serve our brethren. We are separated by our differences but offered a rope consisting of love, understanding, and compassion to bring us closer together.

Happy Kwanzaa to the African American community; happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends; and happy Christmas to my brothers and sisters in Christ.

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