Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and let’s not forget Festivus…the Holiday for the Rest of Us

Did you know that there are minimally 14 different holidays between November and January? There’s Diwali- the Hindu Festival of Lights (though many, other than Hindus, celebrate Diwali).  Hindus may decorate their homes with lights to celebrate. There’s Hanukkah- a Jewish celebration lasting eight nights including the lighting of the menorah. I still remember the stunning menorahs in my Jewish friends’ homes growing up. There’s Kwanzaa- celebrating African culture and community (bring on the fritters and plantains!). There’s Dia de los Muertos- a Mexican holiday commonly known as the Day of the Dead honouring those that have passed away. There’s Omisoka- Japanese New Year’s Eve where homes are decorated with sacred Shinto straw rope and is considered one of the most important Japanese holidays. And lastly there’s Festivus- the Holiday for the Rest of Us- a ‘made up’ holiday by fictional Seinfeld character Frank Costanza who had enough of Christmas traditions therefore focused on this holiday where family members would air their grievances around a steel pole. The pole would not include decorations mostly because Frank Costanza found tinsel distracting. 

A recent social media post that went viral recently stated the following, when someone says, “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”, remember, they’re not doing it because of political correctness. They do it out of respect. When someone says, “happy holidays” to you simply thank them. Because they don’t know what you believe in. It’s called respect, not a war on Christmas. 

The commonality of all the holidays is a sense of community, tradition, belonging, food, family, and togetherness. It’s called the holiday season for a reason! We need not celebrate one holiday. We can celebrate the meaning behind all holidays. When saying, “happy holidays” to your co-workers, clients and neighbours perhaps reframing one’s perspective is in order. By saying, “happy holidays” essentially you are saying, I honour and respect what you celebrate whatever holiday that may be (even Festivus!). The golden rule is treating people the way you wish to be treated. However, when it comes to creating a culture of inclusion and belonging, we should adhere to the platinum rule which is treat people the way they wish to be treated. 

Let’s not forget that with community comes commonality. Some may have suffered significant loss so remember that sometimes the ‘first are the worsts’ so whatever we can do for one another- regardless of faith, culture, religion, or circumstance- caring and compassion goes far.

So, with that, wishing you all a great holiday season filled with love, laughter, and light.

Image by NoName_13 from Pixabay

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Tina Varughese