Dec. 12, 2002, Gazette
Newfoundland is not exactly the most diverse
place in the entire world. This is not meant to be an insult to the people
living here; it is simply saying that immigration into our province has
not always been economically favoured when compared to other provinces
like Alberta and Ontario. In my high school I could count on two hands
the number of people who were not Caucasians of European descent. The
Memorial campus offers much more diversity than the population of Newfoundland
does as a whole between students and staff we likely have every
continent covered. This is something wonderful that I think we should
Yet this diversity has lead me to realize how little I know about other
cultures. Ive been just as exposed to the world as many other Newfoundlanders
Ive travelled all over Europe and visited almost every major
city in Canada. Ive attended religious ceremonies other than my
own and went to summer camps with people from all over the world. Ive
taken religion courses, yet I dont feel like I have ever experienced
any culture vastly different than my own for long enough to understand
what it is all about.
When it comes around to the holidays I always find myself picking up magazines
and reading feature articles about other religious and cultural holiday
ceremonies. Ever since I was a kid, with my Highlights magazine
in tow, Ive been curious about Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas and
Ramadan. Then there are all the variances in the tradition of Christmas
to learn about.
Chanukah was the first ceremony I started to explore. This was piqued
by the interest of reading Number the Stars and studying the Second
World War in elementary school. For a kid, Chanukah sounds 10 times better
than Christmas hello, there are eight days of gifts! Yet as I grew
older so did my interest in Judaism. After performing scenes from The
Diary of Anne Frank in front of a synagogue packed full of people
I began to put a human face to the Dreidel, potato latkes and the menorah.
Kwanzaa is the celebration of African culture that began in 1966. It spans
seven days in December. Learning about Kwanzaa made me realize that the
principals they celebrate should be celebrated by all people. Unity, self-determination,
collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity
and faith each mark one days of the celebration.
Las Posadas is the Mexican celebration of the journey of Mary and Josephs
journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Each night between Dec. 16-24 they
hold a party with plenty of food and drink. Songs are sung and a piñata
is broken at the end of the evenings.
Ramadan is the fasting ninth month of the Muslim calendar, a celebration
that strives to strengthen the family unit and sense of community. Ever
since the terrorist attacks in New York the Muslim religion has been under
attack, yet if people educated themselves on the core principals of Islam
they would realize that it is fundamentalists who are committing acts
of terror and not every person who confesses to the Islamic religion.
When it all comes down to it each of these celebrations strives to bring
unity to a community and celebrate peace, family and friends. The entire
month of December has become synonymous with celebrating. Whether youre
celebrating the Birth of Jesus, the Festival of Lights, African Culture,
the consciousness of Allahs presence or commercialism theres
a place for you in December. So as you hang your lights and buy your gifts,
take some time this holiday season to consider what people all over the
world and perhaps even next door are celebrating. Ask a friend about their
traditions, the more we know the closer we will come to the holiday goals
of peace and community.