Youth comment – Elliott Kindler

How do schools treat a big annual event like Christmas? Most schools in and around big cities are very multicultural, and include children from a variety of faith communities.

As we all know, Christmas is a Christian festival. In my school, I suspect Muslim and Jewish children feel left out because, although they join in the celebrations to some extent – putting a tree up, watching one of the teachers dressing up as Father Christmas – the teachers are so preoccupied with plans for the festive season that they don’t take these children into consideration.

Christmas should be a time of solidarity and happiness for everybody after a long, hard, strenuous year. But, although it may bring Christians together, other children can feel left out in the cold, while those around them revel in presents, good food and celebrations.

My dad is Jewish, but that has not really affected how I celebrate Christmas. In fact it is a bonus, because I also celebrate Hanukkah. However, I do only associate Christmas with presents and good food, and it never enters my mind to think of the true story behind it, even though I am fully aware of it.

Christmas at school has become a festival based around traditions and celebration, not one with a religious message. Overall I don’t feel rejected, or divided between religions. I can celebrate Hanukkah at home and, when it comes to Christmas, I try to make a real effort to celebrate it for my friends’ sakes because they are very supportive of me in my religious observances, such as fasting.

I don’t think, however, that this kind of understanding is something you can always expect from an ordinary school.

I think that it is only fair that we celebrate Divali and Hanukkah. Schools need to make time for other religions to show Christians what they do and how they do it.

These celebrations are as much to do with culture as religion, and celebrations like these would give children better knowledge of their own religious and cultural background and allow them to share it with others about them.

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