by Elie Nowlis
The winter season means cold weather, fires, a two-week break, and, for many people, Christmas. In the last couple days before vacation, teachers usually give up on teaching and decide to give students a break and let them throw parties in class. Although this may seem innocent, it can actually be very controversial.
Holidays parties are something that must be done very carefully. There are a lot of rules and regulations around what is allowed and what isn’t. More importantly, students can be hurt or offended depending on how the class celebrates. About 90% of Americans say they celebrate Christmas, but that does not mean minorities can be overlooked.
Sarah Esther is one of those minorities.
She is Jewish and celebrates Hannukah. Sarah remembers feeling excluded during elementary school when her class had “the stereotypical quote on quote holiday parties, that were just for the Christian holidays, such as Christmas.” These parties made her feel very excluded and left out.
In 1962, the Supreme Court declared the public schools “religion-free zones,” but somehow Christmas parties still happen in schools.
“There are so many kids celebrating one holiday, you definitely do see a lot of, not necessarily rule breaking, but definitely people are more lax on the rules,” says Esther.
These rules state that schools may teach about religion but cannot teach religion.
These Christmas-themed parties can have a number of detrimental effects on students.
“Sometimes kids don’t know any better and do get teased, like ‘Oh you don’t celebrate this holiday, your different, we’re going to single you out.’
With all these detrimental effects on children, holiday parties may not be the best idea in schools.
“I think that may be the best way to deal with this is excluding all holiday parties from the public school system because then no child feels left out,” Esther suggests.
Rosie Bunker has a very different view.
“I think celebrating holidays is awesome,” she said.
Rosie celebrates Christmas and loves to get festive in December.
“No matter what holiday you celebrate, you should be able to show that you celebrate that and find other people who celebrate the same things and have a good time,” Bunker advises.
Even though Bunker is an advocate for holiday parties, this does not mean she wants to exclude those who did not celebrate Christmas. In fact, she says the only reason she wouldn’t want to celebrate is if it made people feel uncomfortable.
Instead of focusing on the negatives parties can bring, Bunker decides to focus on the positives. She believes that everyone can enjoy a party, even if they can’t fully relate to it.
“If someone doesn’t celebrate a holiday at all it would give them a chance to enjoy this time of year,” says Bunker.
There are many conflicting ideas on holiday parties, but the most important things is that all students feel included. After all, that’s all that truly matters.
Photo by Jun Jun Art Gallery