Christmas break is quickly approaching. Many kids and school faculty members are looking forward to the departure from crazy classrooms, but what about the families who don’t celebrate Christmas? How do the students who don’t celebrate Christmas feel about a week off of school? Does your school heavily focus the winter break on Christmas and New Year’s Eve?
“I don’t know how to put it,” said Susie Konstanty, a science teacher at Buffalo High School. “We call it Christmas break because the majority [here] are Christians, but with the different religions, and Hanukkah right there with it, it would be better as just a winter break than a Christmas break to be more inclusive.”
“I feel we should do a better job of educating about other holidays than focusing on the majority around this time too,” she said.
December has 67 national, religious and world holidays. That does not include the awareness weeks or months that also happen during its 31 days.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t think most people think in Christmas terms,” said Lyda Suzie Cole, an art and history teacher at Buffalo High School. “A lot of people just see it as a much-needed winter break because now Christmas isn’t seen to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas anymore. Christmas has been so distorted over the years, it’s now just about the exchange of gifts. I guess a lot of people just don’t look through the lens of religions anymore.”
So what should we be looking through or for? Not to mention, the many religions that are disregarded around this time of year. Additionally, 22.8 percent of the U.S. population doesn’t follow any religion.
“I personally believe it should be called ‘winter holiday break’ because there are so many holidays [around this time],” said Anessa Pitzer, an English teacher at Buffalo High School. “The majority of Americans are Christian, but the basis of America was religious freedom. We should respect all Americans, which is why in Putnam County this year, the Buffalo High School Equalities Club is hosting a Diversity Mixer to learn and understand more about the cultures and beliefs of the high school students of Putnam County.”
Student Emma Cochran, class of 2020 from Buffalo High School, expressed her feelings for the way schools address these breaks by saying “Personally, I grew up in a Christian household and Christmas was a big deal, but I think it should be labeled as a ‘holiday break’ or ‘winter break.’ I understand religious holiday beliefs, but schools shouldn’t label it just as an Easter or Christmas break because it excludes so many other ways of belief. I am agnostic, and although raised with the traditional Jesus and Christmas, I probably wouldn’t bring my children up like that.”
Some of these beliefs that Cochran had mentioned being left out is Arabic Language Day on Dec. 18, Winter Solstice on Dec. 21, Hanukkah on Dec. 22 with the eight days before it, Boxing Day on Dec. 26, or Hogmanay celebrated on Dec. 31.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are very common in West Virginia, but aren’t paid attention to when it comes to their holidays.
“I think schools are very accepting of different cultures,” said Ernie Harper, a Buffalo High School junior. “I don’t think the week off is disrespectful — it’s nice to have any kind of break from school. I personally don’t celebrate any holidays, and over the Christmas break, it’s just a normal week.”
After hearing the views of teachers and students on the Christmas break, do you believe schools are being fair to all students and staff? Should schools approach the break differently to be more inclusive to all cultures? If you believe schools should try to be more inclusive or not, Happy Holidays over these winter months.