Holiday Diversity in the Dulaney Community

Katherine Schutzman, Staff Writer

As we prepare for winter break, students are looking forward to having some time off, seeing family and celebrating traditional holidays. Common winter holidays celebrated by Dulaney students include Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Diwali. Through a survey taken by some Dulaney students, it was observed that most students who responded to the survey celebrate Christmas. However, some students reported to celebrate Christmas in conjunction with other holidays.

Though some celebrations may look different this year due to COVID-19, many people will continue to celebrate with friends and family at parties and gatherings. No matter what holiday they celebrate, many people gather to share food, pray and exchange gifts. Other traditions vary depending on what holiday is being celebrated. For example, celebrations of Hanukkah may include lighting a menorah and playing dreidel, while those of Christmas might involve Christmas mass and decorating a tree.

One holiday that was not reported to be popular among Dulaney students is Diwali. Diwali is mainly celebrated by Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism, all of which originated in India. This holiday is a five-day festival that symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over dark and good over evil. One myth behind the origin of Diwali tells about King Rama, a supreme being in Hindu mythology, and his return to his homeland after 14 years. Another myth suggests that Diwali marks the day that Lord Krishna, another supreme being, returned from slaying the demon king. 

In celebration of Diwali, many families will light rows of clay lamps around their homes, which are said to scare away evil spirits and recognize the meaning of the holiday. For many people, Diwali is also a day to make peace with loved ones and start fresh for the new year. Sometimes, siblings will also put tika, a typically red dot, on each other’s foreheads as a gift, symbolizing a wish for a long life.

Another less common holiday is Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa originated in Africa and is celebrated by people of African descent. This holiday recognizes and celebrates African heritage, unity and culture and lasts seven days. Kwanzaa celebrations vary from family to family, but many will involve singing and dancing, storytelling and a large traditional meal.

This year, as you gather with loved ones and celebrate traditions that are special to you, keep in mind the diversity of our community and learn to appreciate the differences in our celebrations that make us all unique.