Why schools should be more conscious of Non-Christian holidays


Jacqueline Barba

Why were the rules made for Christian holidays in the first place?

It’s official: Christmas has passed. The Christmas lights are tangled back in the attic box from where they came, Christmas trees rolling in the streets like tumbleweeds and we can all finally acknowledge that candy canes have the worst structural integrity of any candy.

You know what that means– time to discuss the cultural implications of Christianity on our society without being accused of being the shorter, Jewish version of Scrooge (with much better hair).

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his supporters are insistent in his belief that there is a completely legit war on our precious American Christmas. Indeed, how dare these foreigners seek to single-handedly destroy our vulnerable Christian culture with the use of their non-Jesusy Starbucks cups.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “We already cancel school for Christmas, Easter AND Good Friday.” Christ that’s a lot of Jesus.

Although it can seem like non-Christians are only a small minority, in a recent study done by the Pew Research Center, they found there over 19 million American non-Christians. Despite this, American school districts continuously neglect these communities.

So DGS, can we please stop putting tests on non-Christian holidays? It’s time to bring some divine light to this issue.

Most of these problems stem not from intolerance but ignorance. In response to a request from the Muslim community to cancel classes for Eid al-Adha, a Maryland school had a moment of brilliance. This request was perfectly reasonable as that particular school was one of the few in the country that closed classes for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.

Miraculously, according to a 2016 Washington Post article, the school board complied and offered to close classes on Eid al-Adha… by opening classes on Rosh Hashana. This is just one example of how grouping other religions and cultures together result in outcomes like these, where the district sincerely thought this would make everyone happy since Jews and Muslims are practically the same, right?

All of these vibrant, diverse cultures are left to fight each other for the scraps. Imagine the reaction if there was school on Christmas. Well, you don’t have to imagine. This year, a New York City school was met with NATIONAL outrage after a proposal to open classes, not on Christmas, not the day before Christmas, but the day before the day before Christmas.

Do you know who else goes to school the day before the day before all of their holidays? Everyone else.

The main argument against even talking about this problem is that with all the major political issues everywhere are holidays really our biggest concern? What we haven’t considered is that awareness fosters acceptance and helps bring attention to other cultures. This issue doesn’t even need to be an issue, we just refuse to fix it.

But I can already hear the angry mob wagging their metaphorical pitchforks and screaming. “Where does it end?!” First of all, calm down. And second, where does it end? I don’t know, probably equality?

Now it is a legitimate point that percentage-wise, non-Christians are only a fraction of the student body. But don’t think of it as a matter of percentages, think of it as a matter of individuals.

It’s a concept called accessibility. Merriam Webster dictionary defines “accessible” as the ability to be understood and appreciated. You don’t build a wheelchair-accessible ramp because the majority of occupants find it necessary, you do it because you’re acknowledging the needs and existence of those that do.

But I get it. It would be impractical to cancel school for a few kids. There simply aren’t enough days in the year to cancel for Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Diwali, the Lunar New Year, Eid… the other Eid.

I’m not asking you to. All that you have to do is not schedule tests on holidays. As an administration, shifting that exam over by a day only takes a little bit of forethought, but it can save a lot of your students a lot of stress.

And as a district, we need to come together to educate students about all holidays, celebrating our amazing diversity and celebrating our unity. Our current system is flawed and we need to make a change. Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Christians… Happy Holidays.