As trees lay barren from the loss of their auburn leaves and the cool autumn air becomes bone chilling, it is evident that winter is near. Beyond the drop in temperature, winter also brings about a host of holidays.
The celebrations and traditions that take place during these events are important as they often promote a sense of unity and bonding amongst individuals in their respective communities.
Holidays also play a crucial role in the development and sharing of memories. I’ll never forget waking up as a child on Christmas morning and nearly breaking my neck on the hardwood floor as I raced my little brother to the Christmas tree, or the epic snowball fights I would have with my dad on a snowy Christmas morning.
Whether it’s watching a firework show with loved ones for New Year’s or decorating your home with crafts for Kwanzaa, holiday traditions produce exciting memories that can be passed down for generations.
For some, holidays are integral to identity or culture. For example, Hanukkah is an eight day long Jewish celebration which honors the rededication of their Holy temple in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago. For this and many other reasons, holidays need to be respected.
But what exactly is respect? What does respect to other holidays look like?
Merriam-Webster defines “respect” as the act of giving someone or something particular attention. The meaning of respect in Latin is to “look back at.”
So, in order to respect other holidays, you don’t have to partake in them or celebrate them — just take note of them. Acknowledge their existence and give respect to the people that observe them.
Paraphrasing from the Council on Quality and Leadership, a leading organization in training human service organizations: “Respectful interactions do not draw negative attention to a person’s difference or disability.”
You may not like or agree with another person’s holiday tradition. However, that does not preclude you from trying to understand.
The Council on Quality and Leadership lists dialogue as the most effective tool in understanding others beliefs and how they want to be respected.
For instance, if you know someone who celebrates Kwanzaa, ask them what they do to celebrate. If you have a friend who is Christian, ask them what Christmas means to them.
In this age of technology, we have several opportunities at our fingertips to conduct research about other holidays, cultures or traditions.
The more we learn and respect each other, the more peaceful our holiday season will become.