One day while I was scrolling through the cesspool that is social media, I noticed someone complaining about their child’s school. Without giving too much information away about the user their complaint was in regard to the holiday festivities:
“My son’s school has gone woke. The Christmas festival is now the holiday festival, and they are celebrating Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.”
I am well aware that this “user” could very well be some intentionally conservative-sounding bot. But indulge me if you will. Because while I disagree with the premise of this tweet it does beg an underlying question: Why are schools celebrating any holidays at all?
In my opinion, if there is a problem with holiday celebrations in schools it isn’t that they don’t center on Christmas… it’s that they exist in the first place. I don’t personally have an issue with schools celebrating anything, but I think it’s weird that we have normalized the concept of public schools celebrating ostensibly religious holidays like Christmas to the point where people feel entitled to it.
The United States is not some small, homogenous country. There are lots of people who don’t celebrate Christmas, which is why it is certainly better for schools to emphasize the multiple winter holidays as opposed to just Christmas. Still, it isn’t necessary to emphasize any of them, but many schools have leaned into it anyway.
Celebrating all the different holidays is fundamentally different than learning about all the different holidays. Obviously taking part in holiday rituals makes a holiday lesson stickier for kids but there is a fine line between that and celebrating the holiday itself. And if all of our school Christmas celebrations were magically turned into Hanukkah celebrations many parents would be quick to point that out.
Maybe instead of finding the middle-ground between differing Abrahamic religious values, and atheists we should just pull back on the celebrations altogether? Maybe instead of having a week of school with nothing but useless review and holiday celebrations schools should just get out a week earlier and let people celebrate however they want… at home.