Welcome to December – arguably the most wonderful time of the year—and for so many of us the busiest! People around the globe will be celebrating one or multiple holidays this month.
We are already in the midst of the eight days of Hanukkah, which began on November 28. Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a Jewish festival commemorating the recovery of Jerusalem and subsequent rededication of the Second Temple at the beginning of the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century BCE. The miracle of the story is that when they sought to light the Temple’s menorah, the limited supply of oil burned marvelously for eight days.
Later this month, Christmas will be observed—a Christian holiday honoring the birth of Jesus, which has evolved into a worldwide religious as well as secular celebration, incorporating many pre-Christian and pagan traditions into the festivities– often celebrated by Christians and many non-Christians alike. Like the Jewish tradition, the world comes alive with twinkling lights, except this time on trees.
From December 26 – January 1, many people celebrate Kwanzaa, an annual celebration of African-American culture which also celebrated with the lights. The lighting of red and green candles, each one representing Kwanzaa principles. The festivities culminate in a communal feast called Karamu, usually held on the 6th day. Although primarily an African American holiday, it has also come to be celebrated outside the United States, particularly in the Caribbean and other countries where there are large numbers of people of African descent.
This is the perfect time of year in our Multiculturalism effort. We are being intentional about increasing our awareness of the many cultures of our students, their families and our staff by hosting a series of webinars.
So far, we have learned about Disability Culture, Blind Culture and LGBTQIA+ Culture. On Thursday, December 9, we will host a seminar that explores the various cultural and faith traditions of the season, and there are more presentations in the works for the new year.
In a season such as this, with the expressions so many beautiful traditions, cultures, and faiths all over the world, we take time to honor each person’s light—their unique qualities and rich cultural heritages.
We invite you to join us as part of the MSB community as we continue to bring our purpose to action on this journey. If you’re so inclined, why not attend a celebration or an event of another faith or culture; ask a friend or co-worker about their family traditions; or perhaps sample holiday foods from a different culture.
In whatever way you celebrate, we hope it is a time filled with warm lights and the joy of the season!