By Emma Waverman If you have access to a library, you will find it interesting to note what reference books say about holidays … However, we should be thoughtful about how we approach the subject, and create inclusive dialogue about how, when and why we celebrate each other. Is there a particular threshold for a number of students or community members when choosing which traditions or holidays to celebrate? In terms of celebrations and holiday traditions, what purpose are they serving? Certain cultures and religious traditions, for example, do not celebrate holidays such as Halloween and Christmas, and some students may need to excuse themselves from the classroom during holiday parties and activities. Or are the people doing the planning only from the majority culture or only people in power? A: Teachers must be alert to the distinction between teaching about religious holidays, which is permissible, and celebrating religious holi-days, which is not. Dr. Jerry Falwell, president of the Faith and Values Coalition, in an interview with CNN commented that he had a list of 40 areas where “other holidays may be talked about, such as Kwanza or Hanukah, et cetera, but Christmas has be berated.” Schempp (1963), in which they “ruled that public schools may not sponsor religious practices but may not teach about religion.” Religious holidays should thus be considered as subparts of the large American culture, which has evolved to include an unimaginable number of different religions; this especially pertains to the ever-diverse city of New York. Lunar New Year, celebrated in January or February and is the biggest holiday of the year in Chinese and Korean culture. (opinion). (It's a cultural holiday, not a religious one.) ... Not only does it give the days off to Muslim and Jewish students, but it brings increased awareness to the holidays celebrated by other faiths. What, then, is the origin of such celebrations? However, according to this CBC article, it doesn’t prevent teachers from neglecting to inform parents their kids are exempt on those days to observe their holiday. However, I do think schools have a responsibility to take a closer look at the demographics of their student body and schedule any tests or class events around those significant dates. Typically, major national holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mother's Day and Father's Day are discussed and celebrated, with affiliated presentations, parties, and at times art or writing projects affiliated with them. They have. In every culture around the world, humans engage in cultural and holiday traditions and celebrations. Seeing as how they have a right to believe and a right to observe a religious holiday, they can't be prohibited from taking time off. Many, if not most, educators hold these celebrations as a welcomed break from academics, and as a way to introduce students from other countries and cultures to the cherished traditions and celebrations of the United States, and introduce students from the U.S. to other cultures, their traditions and celebrations. Are the people planning a culture night, for example, representatives from the cultures being celebrated? Through reading great classic and contemporary works of literature representative of a variety of periods, cultures, and worldviews, students can vicariously inhabit worlds and have experiences much different than their own.". by "New York Times Upfront"; News, opinion and commentary General interest Public schools International aspects Social aspects Religion Religious beliefs Religious Holidays in 8 the Public Schools 108 Tips for Planning Religious Holidays in Public Schools Before planning a religious holiday activity in a public school, ask the following questions: 1. First of all, one should bear in mind that some of the learners may not have any religious beliefs. Now, that’s the kind of lesson I want for my kids. For some families, the winter holiday times can bring anxiety, sadness and fear, as family dysfunction or loved ones who have passed are remembered. How does this activity serve the academic goals of the course, or the Muslim families in New York City have been requesting official recognition for Islamic holidays in public schools for years now, but they may finally see some changes under new Mayor Bill de Blasio. Religious Holiday Celebrations in Public Schools - Important Reminders (December 2019 School Leader Update) Hmmm, well, perhaps not for everyone. Similarly, holidays such as Mother's Day and Father's Day can bring painful reminders of parents who are no longer living, are absent or who have been abusive — not all students have a loving relationship with their parents. The voices of the people who represent specific cultural traditions should be included in these discussions and planning, so we do not inadvertently misrepresent a cultural tradition or holiday. Ultimately, we need to carefully consider the consequences of any actions taken in schools. 1) Should public schools end religious holidays because honoring Christian holidays is unfair to other religions? Read more: For example, when our local elementary school planned a trip to the Toronto Islands during the Jewish high holiday, the kids were exempt—but putting parents in the position where their kids miss out on class fun and bonding experiences in favour of a staid day at the synagogue or dinner with extended family isn’t fair. These guidelines are intended to reflect current law in this area, though on some questions there may be no controlling Supreme Court opinion and the lower courts may be divided. Recognition of and information about holidays may focus on how and when they are celebrated, their origins, histo- Since 2005, teachers have received multi-faith calendars they can refer to when planning out the school year. Are they meant to bring awareness of the history of the holiday, to bring fun and excitement to the classroom, or to bring unity and assimilation to U.S. culture? Because the Supreme Court has not ruled on the issue, there are no final or definitive answers. Depending on the school, the particular holidays or celebrations chosen may represent the cultures of the student population represented in the school. THE Bible is not the source of popular religious and secular holidays that are celebrated in many parts of the world today. What does God mean? Easter and Passover are just around the corner. Should public schools celebrate holidays? And with this diversity comes questions on how to accommodate different religious holidays. Turning freedom OF religion into freedom FROM religion. How difficult is it to not schedule a meeting for a small handful of days a year so that other faiths can observe their sacred events? However, they can't require kids to attend school over those holidays, particularly those kids who observe those holidays. Students may have family and ancestors from various parts of the world, and may have grown up in the United States, but are not necessarily ambassadors or representatives of the culture that their ancestors come from. It is important that we also remember that a student's ethnic heritage is not necessarily directly tied to their cultural practices. While these celebrations and traditions are a part of the fabric of American society, they have the potential to exclude students for a variety of reasons. At other times a "culture night" may be celebrated, with teachers, parents or students sharing cultural artifacts or traditions in a variety of ways. Perhaps one of the first considerations should be which holidays and traditions are celebrated in school — and why. Specific holidays and traditions such as Dia de los Muertos or Kwanza are sometimes celebrated or discussed in schools as well. As public schools in the United States continue to increase in ... alienate children who do not engage in such celebrations and offend parents whose The leading source for targeted, industry specific news briefs. A Teachable Moment. Q: How should religious holidays be treated in the classroom? 2. Erick Herrmann These events can and should be a way to build awareness of others, sensitivity and responsiveness to other ways of thinking and doing things, and not a way to create divisiveness among students by creating a "my cultural celebrations are better than yours" environment. Celebrations of other cultures are also sometimes a part of school celebrations and traditions. On Monday he discussed the issue on the Brian Lehrer Show, declaring that he planned to move forward with closing schools for Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha , as well as for the Lunar New Year. In 1954, Congress revised the Pledge of Allegiance to refer to the nation as “under God,” a phrase that has since been recited by generations of schoolchildren. In China, where people traditionally go back to their hometown for the holiday, it's the occasion for the largest annual human migration in the world. © Copyright 2021 St. Joseph Communications. The article offers suggestions that teachers can use throughout the school year, as well as when observing cultural and Certain cultures and religious traditions, for example, do not celebrate holidays such as Halloween and Christmas, and some students may need to excuse themselves from the classroom during holiday parties and activities. Newdow argued that the wor… In 2000, Michael Newdow filed suit challenging the phrase on behalf of his daughter, a public school student in California. Additionally, we must be keenly aware that celebrating other cultures, when we are not members of that culture, can potentially be construed as tokenism or cultural appropriation. Typically, major national holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mother's Day and Father's Day are discussed and celebrated, with affiliated presentations, parties, and at times art or writing projects affiliated with them. Which cultures and traditions, then, are celebrated and discussed, and which aren't? Every student wants to have fun in school, and cultural events, holidays and celebrations are one way we can celebrate the diversity in our schools and in our world. Religious Freedom The constitution dictates that every person has the right to practice whatever religion they would like, at anytime and anywhere that they would like. We've got the platform you need. Canada, especially its larger cities, is becoming more ethnically and religiously diverse. Religious education should not be a compulsory subject in public schools because this requirement can violate the rights of both students and policies. Just like language, it is difficult to imagine a society without them. The same can be said of holidays and traditions that are commonly celebrated in the U.S. Are people who do not celebrate Christmas or Halloween, or another holiday or tradition, present and able to give their input, thoughts and opinions about the subject in a way that is recognized and heard? There is nothing wrong with wanting to highlight them in schools. Religious holidays. Given this emphasis on learning about and appreciating other cultures and perspectives, educators should carefully weigh the amount of time they are using for cultural celebrations and holiday traditions into their instruction. Banning religion from schools is unconstitutional to religious students who want to practice or worship during the school day. I’m not arguing that all religious dates should be holidays for staff and students. While these celebrations and traditions are a part of the fabric of American societ… Public schools should not close or reschedule activities solely because of conflicts between the school calendar and religious holidays. She has many opinions, some of them fit to print. Religious Holidays should be celebrated in public schools. : Answering the tough questions>, Why is my tween suddenly interested in faith?>. The United States is one of the most religiously diverse nations in the world, and one of the most religious of the developed nations in the world. Not only does it give the days off to Muslim and Jewish students, but it brings increased awareness to the holidays celebrated by other faiths. Why is my tween suddenly interested in faith?>. Students actively seek to understand other perspectives and cultures through reading and listening, and they are able to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds. This article shows teachers how to bring rich cultural content into their teaching in a way that expands students' knowledge, interest, and respect for the group being featured. I’m not arguing that all religious dates should be holidays for staff and students. Free Online Library: Should public schools celebrate religious holidays? The CCSS state: "Students appreciate that the 21st-century classroom and workplace are settings in which people from often widely divergent cultures and who represent diverse experiences and perspectives must learn and work together. The job of public schools is to not to celebrate religious holidays, but to teach students about Christianity and other religions in history, literature, art, and music or wherever in the curriculum study about religions is necessary for a good education. There are Atheists who used to be religious (I know a few) and they used to celebrate holidays according to their tradition, beliefs, or how their religion demands that it be celebrated (such as Catholics or Jews and how they celebrate in December), now they don't anymore but instead just recognize those as days where "Gifts for me!! As in, technically, no Christmas or Easter parties, that sort of thing. Why we go to synagogue, even though I’m an atheist> 36. Right now, the only holidays that are officially recognized are Christian ones. Is this activity designed in any way to either promote or inhibit religion? Just 17% think there should be no religious holiday celebrations in … Legally, they technically can't. Erick Herrmann is an educational consultant specialized in teaching English learners, and he runs Academic Language Learning Institute, Inc.. Erick has worked with thousands of teachers across the nation to help them improve their instructional practice and increase academic achievement for all students. The high court has ruled, however, that the government may not erect an explicitly Every educator wants classroom and school celebrations to be just that — celebratory. Why we go to synagogue, even though I’m an atheist>, What does God mean? This Monday, September 14, is Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), one of the two most important holidays in the Jewish calendar. However, others believe these celebrations potentially cause more harm than good, taking precious academic learning time from students or "tokenizing" other cultures, creating division and supremacist attitudes, and representing world cultures in simplistic or stereotypical ways. There is no Easter vacation in public schools as there was when I was a child. ! It’s even a battle sometimes in the workforce, with many corporations insisting that certain religious holidays be marked down as a vacation day. Improved Morals Public schools are dealing with some very heavy issues in the recent years. Teenage pregnancy, school violence, school shootings, and dru… Dear public schools: Not everyone is Christian. At times, these celebrations and parties are conducted just before holiday breaks, as students are excited and potentially more focused on vacation than doing academic work. St. Joseph Communications uses cookies for personalization, to customize its online advertisements, and for other purposes. It’ll send the message that diversity is important and valued, and that everyone’s faith is on an equal plane. Is the pandemic to blame for lower college enrollments? & Every educator wants classroom and school celebrations to be just that, Business Management, Services & Risk Management. Others include nonacademic activities such as food or movies. Quote: "To evaluate (this) claim ... we must venture into the often-dreaded and certainly murky area of Establishment Clause jurisprudence..." 4 th U.S. The time taken for these celebrations may well be worthwhile to build community, celebrate and have fun with students. Circuit Court of Appeals, Koenick vs. Felton. Wednesday, November 15, 2017. But that is not necessarily the right way to solve the "December Dilemma." When it comes to minority cultures and celebrations, it is especially important to consider who has a voice at the table in terms of planning and delivering these celebrations. Should Religious Education be a compulsory subject in all schools, including public schools? However, we should consider which holidays and celebrations are a part of the school and why, the amount of time dedicated to these celebrations and how we might make them relevant to each of our students, increasing inclusivity and cultural responsiveness in schools and ultimately in our society. : Answering the tough questions> September 11, 2015. We should question, then, the purpose of these celebrations in schools. This is what the Peel District School Board (which serves Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga in Ontario) does. Schools should recognize non-Christian religious holidays – … Cultural and holiday celebrations have been a part of the fabric in U.S. schools for decades. Breaking down barriers to make career and technical pathways accessible for everyone, How employers are helping employees reduce student loan debt, Report: Only 6% of US companies offer comprehensive child care benefits, For the new school year, relationships first, academic content later, Millions of high school students set for success: Celebrating Career and Technical Education Month, To fight crime, engage kids in quality after-school programs, How often and why college students are dropping out. But at a local level, schools are often oblivious to major holidays. December Dilemma: Teaching About Religious Holidays | Religion … Some cultural and holiday activities may include academic activities such as artistic activities, reading books or articles about the topic or writing prompts. Public school officials need to be especially conscious at this time of year that Christmas is not recognized or celebrated … To many, these are just regular school or work days. It’s never easy negotiating the Jewish holidays, and I often find myself disappointed that schools (and workplaces) often need constant reminders about Rosh Hashanah. Emma Waverman is a writer, blogger and mom to three kids. These questions are critical to take into account. By not letting people celebrate any holiday, Christmas, Hanakuh, And Kwanzaa, It is violating their right as a United States citizen, To the First Amendment in the Constitution of the United States of America. Recently there has been a lot of debate on whether or not public schools should celebrate or even acknowledge Christmas. Perhaps one of the first considerations should be which holidays and traditions are celebrated in school — and why. In the U.S., public schools may educate students about holidays with respect to cultural education but may not actually celebrate a holiday if it is a religious one. On the other hand, if you have struggling students in your classroom, this could also have the effect of taking away key learning opportunities. Religious Holidays should be celebrated in public schools. Building the toolkit for paraprofessional success, Want to use videos to boost your sales? New York City recently added two Muslim holidays to their school calendar. Many people are against having prayer in school, why take out prayer, but leave in religious holidays? GOVERNMENTS . Religious Holidays and Public Schools: A Brief Legal Analysis Although many controversies have arisen over religious holidays in public schools, the case law is scant. How kids of other faiths are getting shortchanged. Or can the same goals be accomplished in other ways? However, my three kids will miss out on classroom assignments on Monday since they’ll be at home, celebrating the Jewish New Year. They evaluate other points of view critically and constructively. And the multi-faith calendar educators are provided with doesn’t stop teachers from going ahead and scheduling tests on religious holidays. Another consideration is the amount of time being spent on holiday traditions and celebrations. Sponsored link. Could this also be the case with holidays being celebrated in schools? RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS Teachers should work to ensure that all holiday activities focus on objective study about religion, not indoctrination. Currently, the Ontario government states that each school board should “have religious accommodation guidelines in place and communicate these guidelines to the community.” This means that if a test or school assembly conflicts with a religious holiday, then the student is allowed to fulfill the requirements another time without penalization. In fact, the Common Core State Standards emphasize the ability to understand other's perspectives and cultures as a key college and career readiness skill for the 21st century. RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS RECOGNIZED BY U.S. Given these mixed feelings toward cultural and holiday celebrations and presentations, educators should take the following considerations into mind as they plan and celebrate the cultural and holiday traditions of the country and the populations they serve. If compelled to balance competing claims from all religious believers (and, for the sake of fairness, nonbelievers) with practical matters such as weather, national civic holidays, […] We have discussed what schools should and shouldn’t do regarding religious holidays, but what about the school’s duty to accommodate students and teachers who wish to observe religious holidays on their… Add religion into the mix of considerations and rational planning becomes impossible. Both Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting) join Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Christmas and Easter as holidays for everyone. Every December, public school students, parents, teachers and administrators face the difficult task of acknowledging the various religious and secular holiday traditions celebrated during that time of year. However, schools may consider closing when large numbers of student and teacher absences are anticipated. If some students are excluded from these celebrations, are those goals being accomplished? MPR News Staff January 28, 2016, 9:18 AM Jan 28, 2016. While the main purpose of schools might be considered as academic in nature, some celebrations take time away from this purpose. Public school administrators have to consider numerous factors when deciding when class ought to be in session. In a changing America, getting holidays right in public schools isn’t easy. Here’s how. Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice), one of the most significant holidays for Muslims, both happen a week later. Read more of her articles here and follow her on Twitter @emmawaverman. Is it educational for public schools to celebrate these holidays, or unconstitutional? These celebrations may also be a part of a larger goal of developing awareness of other cultures, their traditions and ways of thinking. Can you imagine the uproar if people had to use a vacation day for Christmas? Even though my family is not particularly observant, I feel strongly that major religious holidays should be treated equally at school and in the workplace. Academic Language Learning Institute, Inc. I see many comments from people who feel that other people are pushing their religious beliefs on them. Can you imagine if schools didn't close for Christmas? Based on high-profile fights over the past several years, many schools have taken an entirely hands-off approach to the winter holidays. However, the U.S. public school calendar has historically been designed around Christmas / New Years. Depending on how the cultural tradition or holiday is being celebrated, students may be having fun and practicing academic skills, through writing, reading or discussing the topic, for example. Editor’s note: The following section on religious holidays contains consensus guidelines drafted and endorsed by a broad range of 17 religious and educational groups. Holidays and cultural celebrations are an important part of every society and culture. That figure includes 48% who feel all religious holidays should be celebrated in public schools. Teachers and schools regularly engage in activities during and after school to celebrate the various cultures that are represented in the school, as well as national holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. September 16, 2002. Your Industry Needs YOUR Expert Voice not all students have a loving relationship with their parents.