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METEA MEDIA

Schools should recognize non-Christian religious holidays

Schools+should+recognize+non-Christian+religious+holidays

Co-written by Sameen Ali and Zyma Lakhani.

Around the U.S., Christian holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Good Friday are days that are allowed off from school so that families can celebrate. In a regular school year, students are allotted two weeks in honor of Christmas, although more are beginning to refer to those two weeks as winter break instead of Christmas break. Additionally, the week leading up to Easter is usually given off as well.

Although many people in the U.S. are Christian and celebrate these holidays, people of other faiths are excluded from being able to celebrate their own holy days. It should be a school’s duty to accommodate the holidays that its students and staff wish to celebrate. Schools should respect holidays that are important for other religions and cultures such as the Hindu holiday of Diwali, the Islamic holiday of Eid, the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, the Chinese Lunar New Year,  and so on.

Some states have already made progress in including each of its communities, allowing several days off for these occasions. In New York, schools close for major Jewish holidays, and as of 2015, two days are given for Muslims to observe Eid. Part of this was simply because of the numbers, with nearly 1.1 million of their schoolchildren being Muslim and their and other numbers continuing to grow across the nation with not only Islam, but other religions too.

In the top twenty five U.S. public school districts, Good Friday has been more often recognized than most civic holidays. Veterans Day, Eid, and Chinese New Year, as well as others, aren’t nearly as recognized as prominent Christian holidays; so the question from advocates is: why can they be recognized and while other religious holidays are left in the dark? Recognizing other religious holidays is important in respecting America’s diverse communities. Granted, having a wider range of religious holidays can make it harder to fit in school, but society has progressed enough to not make the goal to fit in anymore, anyways. It’s important to give other cultures their days off, or at the least, recognize them. There is also the possibility of minimizing days off to major religions or petitioning for a special holiday off if  it would take up too many school days.

Although the central issue is about how other religious holidays aren’t properly recognized as official holidays, classes not being cancelled on said days poses another problem for students and their families. Not only is there the construct of inequality towards religious holidays, students must choose between school and their religion. Although many schools accept religious holidays as an excused absence, students are often times unable to observe their respective holiday due to obligations in school, especially in high school and college. If they do choose to observe their respective holiday, they can miss vital information and lessons being taught in classes. This increases the workload and stress students already have, which ultimately puts the individual at a complete disadvantage because they simply wanted to celebrate their faith.

Many hope for change among other states after New York’s decision. Illinois is among the most religiously diverse states in the U.S., having the third highest population of Muslims, sixth highest rate of Jewish people, and eleventh highest of Hindus, according to the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB). This begs the question: why is this not reflected in the school calendar? Many have started to demand change and signed petitions to make their holidays official. Recognizing different holidays would be a huge step forward on the path to give all communities and faiths equality.

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Comments (39)

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  • S

    Sincerely, "Really?"Apr 18, 2022 at 9:27 am

    Spring break here is early-to-mid March, nowhere near Easter … Good Friday and Easter Monday are not holidays here either, so I am very confused about a lot of this. Finally, Christmas Break is not “Christmas Break” here either. It is a holiday break and an excuse for teacher workdays/training, which encompasses all religious holidays for that time. It is even inappropriate to openly have Christmas around as it could be insulting to other beliefs. Also, here, all of the Islamic and Jewish holidays ARE given off for the Muslim and Jewish community here WITHOUT make-up work, while ALL other religious and non-religious students have to still go to school. They just give them B.S. work to do that day. The differences I see are that non-Christians get to take FORMER Christian holidays off, while on the specified Islamic and Jewish holidays, not everyone gets to take those off jointly. Is the south really that different? I am massively confused. It must be a state-by-state thing. Ours is Republican as hell, so again, very confused on how ours is this way. We also have the most comprehensive trans healthcare in the country, but trans people move due to the redness of the state and then regret it when they realize this. This world is very confusing, and I am trusting these “journalists” less and less. It continues to sound like an attempt to divide people based on beliefs, skin color, or general personality. A lot of conjecture in these comments. We all need to admit that humans are naturally selfish for THEIR needs. As one whines and gets their way, another will be feeling let down.

    I used to be blue, then thought about red, now independent as hell.

    P.S. If this is an Indian-related thing, then just speak to the district you are at or the workplace you are at. Do you really think in this woke-ass me-too time that they will not listen?!?! It makes me think people waste their time whining on the Internet rather than just simply making a change. SPEAK UP to YOUR places that you need these changes. They will probably not want to risk getting in trouble anyway. Plus, all of the workplaces here are very, very adamant about supporting beliefs, SO I think this must be mostly a public-school thing. BUT now, parents are complaining about how many holidays are off in places like New York City, and this is causing a major strain on the parents. I am not a parent myself yet, so I cannot give my experience, but I have definitely seen the strain on the parent(s) being a former nanny.

    P.S.S. Instead of allowing the politicians to strategically divide us this way, we really need to start speaking to each other like humans. Stop getting exasperated via the Internet AND GO TO YOUR LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD MEETINGS OR TOWN MEETINGS!!!! Even your utilities will have monthly or quarterly or whatever big-ass open meetings to allow you to voice WHATEVER you need to voice. Come on, people, we are smarter than this.

    P.S.S. It is clearly completely different from state-to-state and county-to-county, so pay attention to your area and make the changes there instead of screaming into the void.

    Reply
  • A

    ari3lz3pp3linMar 29, 2021 at 7:00 pm

    This is yet another idea that is misrepresenting Christianity. Most holidays these articles refer to are about Catholics. It’s not the same thing. In CA most religious groups that are non-Christian are actually getting precedence to take time off of school for religious observance than Christians do. Because they are lumped in with Catholics which typically have very different beliefs regardless of how deceptively similar many of the values can be.

    Christmas is mostly based on consumerism and Catholic ritual much more so than about Christianity. I grew up in Catholic school until high school and though they also had importance put on Easter and stations of the cross as well, Christmas was much more involved ritualistically speaking, as well as praising mother Mary. For a while now I have turned to Christianity and Easter is by far the more important holiday of the two. Holy week especially. Yet we are getting stepped on and not allowed to observe this when we are used to being able to as the nation becomes increasingly anti-Christian. They might as well name it Earth day break because that seems to be what the importance is put on. But if other religious factions are going to get to choose to take days off for being Muslim, Jewish, etc then I should be allowed to have my child out of school for Holy week specifically. I don’t feel a need for a break because it’s spring (I’m not Druidic or wiccan…) to let my freak flag fly or whatever, I do feel pressure in missing out on Holy week because to us as a family this is one of the most important foundations to our spiritual lives (which we try to keep intermingled with our daily lives…not a separate thing).

    We spend Holy week preparing for the most important holiday of the year, we worship, we go to day-time services, we study the new testament every day. If that doesn’t matter to the public schools then it only makes sense no one’s religion/spirituality should matter. I wouldn’t want it that way of course but seeing as people are generally unable to understand mutual respect about these things now-a-days seems that might be the only logical answer.

    On a related subject; it’s been widely known for decades now that the public school system needs a major overhaul, most of the practices of primary institutions especially are outdated as heck, we still aren’t teaching the most impressionable students how to think independently in most schools but brainwashing them with the current political rhetoric of the nation, and molding them into being mindlessly subservient. Unfortunately most parents are so overworked they don’t have the time and energy to push back against this whether only personally or publicly as well.

    Reply
  • R

    ruminaApr 6, 2020 at 9:11 pm

    First off it is unfair to other religions when PUBLIC schools are not allowing kids to go to school because of a Christian holiday but not for their own religion. (FOR EXAMPLE) Hello! I am here too with a Diwali celebration on Wednesday. But I can’t skip school because I have an exam that can not be retaken that day. And then others say just take that day off it is no big deal. It is. Again I have an exam that day. And if I skip school my grades will be horrible. There are no excuses either. But then Christians and/or Catholics are getting their holidays off and having fun without fear of missing out on their celebrations. And yes majority of the U.S. population is Christian but that DOES NOT mean that there isn’t diversity. People come to America looking for better futures and equality and inclusiveness. But then there are schools that aren’t always considered religious (public schools) and still having days off for Christian holidays and not others’ religious holidays. It is very unfair. Honestly, America is like one of those online stores that claim they have amazing quality and guaranteed free-shipping yet when they arrive a MONTH later the quality is crap. We are exactly like that. Not all people are like that but definitely majority is. And it is sad. But then including every religion’s holiday and taking a day off for each of them can be very confusing and cost learning hours for the school district. If that is the case then don’t celebrate any religion’s holiday. This is just fair. No one will feel like their religion isn’t important or unrecognized. It would finally be EQUAL.

    Reply
    • S

      SusanApr 15, 2022 at 7:51 am

      You are in turn enforcing your beliefs on everyone. You have a right to celebrate your religion and others have theirs.

      Reply
  • M

    ManBearPigOct 14, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    My son goes to school in Brooklyn and between all the different holidays recognized and other stuff like admin, elections, etc it feels like there’s is a day off every school each week. How are working parents supposed to cope with all this?

    Reply
  • F

    fghApr 19, 2019 at 12:13 am

    i see people saying “just take the day off on your holiday” but then you gotta catch up with homework. smh this why i dont take a day off

    Reply
  • B

    BrownboyJan 28, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    I love how some of all in the comments say take off the day from school. Ok so how about we don’t have any breaks for chirstian holidays and you guys take off too. It’s easy to say that but what’s not easy is to make up for the work you missed then you fall behind. It’s not fair for people who aren’t Christians. We have winter break which falls into Christmas we have spring break which falls into Easter. You guys never have to worry about missing school because there is no school during your holiday. However we do because of our religion we have to miss school and then we fall behind. This just puts pressure on us to choose between our religion and school which is not ok!!!!

    Reply
  • P

    Pepe the frogMar 23, 2017 at 7:54 am

    America is a Christian nation… does no one understand this?

    Reply
  • P

    PEPEMar 14, 2017 at 8:11 am

    It would Literally make us stupider: we would have too many days off.

    Reply
  • J

    Jung HoseokFeb 8, 2017 at 9:10 am

    But the USA is Christian country…

    Reply
    • S

      supFeb 9, 2017 at 6:14 pm

      the government cant make acts and pass laws through there religious beliefs and Christians may have founded the country but there is an extremely large amount or religious diversity (I made this under the impression that you are not a troll and if you are not I am sorry you are this naive)

      Reply
      • T

        The DiddlerMar 23, 2017 at 8:07 am

        yes they can

        Reply
        • M

          MarkMar 4, 2018 at 11:43 am

          The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” -John Adams
          -We are not a Christian nation and even if we were, it would have no relevance today

          The First Amendment- Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
          -The government may not create religious laws (respecting an establishment of religion) or prohibit religious practices (prohibiting the exercise thereof)

          We have a separation of church and state
          -(No religion in schools or relating to it)

          Reply
  • R

    robert huehueFeb 7, 2017 at 11:01 am

    yeah i just joined a new religion called fergenjergen and its against my religion to attend school so I should be rightfully dismissed by the school or else they’re racist bigots. 🙂

    Reply
  • S

    Sean WelchFeb 7, 2017 at 10:02 am

    The holidays you highlighted have become as much non-Christian holidays as Christian holidays. Considering 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas and 80% of Americans celebrate Easter (which we don’t actually get days off for), there’s no way that the argument can be made that schools are defaulting to “Christian” holidays only. Compared to holidays like Diwali or Eid, holidays which are celebrated by a specific group of individuals of a certain religion, the arguments being made are more than invalid. Not to mention comparing a day like Veteran’s Day (a non-religious day) to religious holidays and arguing discrimination.

    While I agree that other religions can and should be formally recognized a bit more, taking days of school for them (which doesn’t happen unless the holidays are recognized as federal holidays) would be more counter-intuitive than anything else. Schools, at least in District 204, allow you to take excused absences for religious holidays, and while schoolwork will have to be made up, even the Christians have to worry about getting a ton of work done, especially if you are in a bunch of AP classes. That is the tradeoff of being in high school, not being religious. Teachers and staff should understand and should give you a bit of a reprieve for religious holidays. Making up the work depends on the studiousness of the student.

    Holidays and days off of school as a result are completely a formal thing. Attempting to force days off for all of these other religions would be hard work for the staff and administration, and tough on students as a result. We have many days off, and the schools do recognize the existence of religious holidays, even if we don’t get formal days off for them. Because of this, I don’t believe that more holidays should be added to the curriculum.

    Reply
  • C

    Charles BarnesFeb 6, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Great article backed up by factual evidence. I agree completely that other religious holidays should be recognized because of the diversity growth in schools across the country. Similarly, I didn’t know February was Turner Syndrome Month was the same month as Black History Month. Although, I believe that says more about my lack of knowledge versus the school’s recognition.

    Reply
    • C

      confusedFeb 7, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      Charles, should it be RECOGNIZED or should we have a DAY OFF of school? That’s the question, not whether its recognized or not. All holidays can be recognized, but the problem is when you have a day off of school.

      Ramadan is a widely celebrated holiday, and to be factual, we have that off because it is our ‘summer break’. If Good Friday shouldn’t be a day off, then summer break shouldn’t be a thing.

      These responses and this article has no logical thinking.

      Reply
  • B

    Balkin TuffleFeb 6, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    I feel like this article was written, to add more school days to the calendar, as well as removing them. The reason why schools recognize Christian holidays over others, is because the country’s major religion at the time of it’s founding was bias towards Christianity. And because of that is why we say, “Under god” in the pledge of allegiance. The idea to add other religious holidays is deplorable to the point in which the separation of church and state, would there fore, have to be abolished. Thus, adding more holidays is a overall a bad idea.

    Reply
  • F

    Fonsy BearFeb 6, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    I do not agree, Christians have already been removed of many of the other holidays we could celebrate, and can’t even have christmas trees.

    Reply
    • T

      The Actual Flying Spaghetti MonsterFeb 7, 2017 at 10:35 am

      thats cultural appropriation its called a festive non religious pine tree

      Reply
  • G

    goodbyeFeb 6, 2017 at 11:58 am

    What about Hanukkah and Kwanzaa? Christmas isn’t the only celebrated holiday during break. Yes, Good Friday is one of the only christian holidays the school cancels, but in all honesty, quit whining and enjoy your day off of school. If you need to be excused from school for religious reasons, that is a perfectly acceptable and tangible option. Fighting over school-days-off equality with religion is solely irrelevant.

    Reply
  • M

    MEFeb 6, 2017 at 11:45 am

    This quote is very alarming to me as a person, “There is also the possibility of minimizing days off to major religions or petitioning for a special holiday off if it would take up too many school days.” This is just solving any problems, it’s just taking days from one holiday and giving them to another. Another problem is that the major Christian Holidays are still going to fall around or on the breaks allotted to us by the school. An excellent example is how Christmas falls at the end of 1st Semester. Complaining that we get “time off” specifically for Christmas is not right because we will get the 2 weeks off anyways, we just get them off at the same time Christmas is.

    Reply
  • B

    Be_Civil_While_DebatingFeb 6, 2017 at 11:41 am

    I cannot argue that the majority of breaks fall on major Christian holidays. However, the only reason that Christian holidays are given days off is less relevant to actual Christian belief, as to the convenience relative to the school calendar. A break at the end of the semester is a good way to transition. Thus: winter break. Redistribution of break days, while inclusive to more cultures, would cause the school calendar to be divided up much less conveniently, and without blocks of time for families to devote toward travel.
    On another note, allotted days off are not pro-Christian. If it was, more “saint” days would be given off (by which I mean Saint Patrick’s or Saint Valentine’s). Many secular holidays are given off, which you failed to mention in your fourth paragraph: Martin Luther King Jr. day, Memorial day, President’s day, and the controversial Columbus Day.
    Holistically, breaks given in schools do usually align with Christian Holidays, but that does not mean that schools are Pro-Christian or Anti-everyone-else.

    Reply
  • K

    KidatMeteaFeb 6, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Eid is as significant as Christmas, or any other Christian holiday. Same with Hanukkah and any other religious holidays. Therefore, these beliefs/practices should be taken into account, and given a day off or two – no matter the religious demographics of Metea.

    Reply
    • T

      The Actual Flying Spaghetti MonsterFeb 7, 2017 at 10:37 am

      so if I was a pastafarian they school would let the entire school out for national talk like a pirate day and blackbeards birthday?

      Reply
  • S

    Sam BartonFeb 6, 2017 at 10:18 am

    It is not like schools force you to go to school on a religious holiday. That is a valid excuse for an absence. So you are allowed to take the day off from school for your religion if you so please.

    Reply
  • A

    ANGSTY TEENFeb 6, 2017 at 9:53 am

    As a student of Indian-Origin, I respectfully disagree with the premise of this article. Trying to fit in the Holidays of every religion in the school year will be too much work, and would cause a lot of confusion among the administration. If a school has a considerable number of students that celebrate the same Holiday then maybe the school should make special accommodations; otherwise, students can just take a day or two off to celebrate with their family and make up the work missed when they come back.

    Reply
    • A

      ANGSTY TEENFeb 7, 2017 at 9:57 am

      AKA VIJATH NARARARA!!!!!!!!

      Reply
  • B

    Benjamin Ryan WeissFeb 6, 2017 at 8:57 am

    I thought we already did. Everybody respects Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and other holidays like that. Why do you think we say Happy Holidays? Plus, just because schools don’t focus on a certain holiday that doesn’t mean that kids are excluded from celebrating it. Schools is just one aspect of a persons life and what a kid does outside of school is none of their business, whether celebrating a religious holiday or not. I respect all religions and every bodies point of view, and I feel that schools make a good enough effort in allowing for diversity in students. They don’t need to represent everybody, but just allowing people to be who they are I feel is good enough.

    Reply
  • D

    DonFeb 6, 2017 at 8:25 am

    Sorry, but the facts, at least in this school district, don’t fit your narrative. In the 17 years I’ve lived in District 204, we’ve never gotten Good Friday off. Because of that, trying to draw a parallel between that and other religious holidays falls apart quickly. Unless you’re Catholic, you probably don’t even think of Good Friday as a holiday. If you are Catholic, you’re in the same boat as people who wish to celebrate other holidays that aren’t given off: you may miss some assignments if you don’t come in. Spring Break and Easter are separated by 3 weeks this year, so saying that’s a celebration of Easter is quite a stretch. The two weeks in the middle of the school year do indeed fall over two FEDERAL holidays (Christmas and New Year), so that’s why Winter Break (which has been its name since my first experiences with this District) falls across them. Plus, it’s pretty much in the middle of the school year, which is an extra bonus. If you want anything else off, get them to be given Federal Holiday status and you’ll be making progress. As far as the New York argument goes, Chicago schools get Casimir Pulaski day off. It’s not a religious holiday. It’s solely because of the large Polish population in the city, just like you’ve mentioned for New York’s reasons.

    As you’ve mentioned, the District allows teachers and students to take days off for religious holidays. Yes, they need to make up the work. Life is full of costs and benefits. Get used to it. It’s not the district’s job to make everyone’s life perfect or easy or to accommodate everyone’s wishes. Why I appreciate your quest to make life fairer, according to your perceptions, the district’s job is to educate. The calendar only includes 180 days of school, which is less than half the year. They already have a tough enough time doing that in the time they’re given. They don’t need to lose even more time.

    Reply
  • C

    Carson WalFeb 6, 2017 at 8:18 am

    America was found on Christian morals and we should not observe any holidays unless it relates to Christianity. Also it is the only true path to god unlike the other religions.

    Reply
    • E

      El ChapoFeb 8, 2017 at 7:49 am

      I do not know if you are trolling or serious.

      Reply
  • S

    Sumesh SundaresanFeb 6, 2017 at 8:04 am

    This is very true: a few years back, my family could not have a proper diwali celebration because my brother and I were at school. This made us feel bad, because we could not be with our family to celebrate the the most famous and important of all the Hindu holidays.

    Reply
    • T

      The Actual Flying Spaghetti MonsterFeb 7, 2017 at 10:38 am

      then stay home…. -_-

      Reply
    • I

      I'm just a guy that caresFeb 7, 2017 at 7:35 pm

      You could’ve taken the day off. The fact that you didn’t shows that it’s your own fault, as all schools let kids have an excused absence if they’re out for a religious holiday.

      Reply
  • C

    calm downFeb 6, 2017 at 8:00 am

    We already have so many days off, don’t push it

    Reply
  • H

    Holden RankFeb 6, 2017 at 7:31 am

    Or nah

    Reply
  • J

    Jarod ThelenFeb 6, 2017 at 7:28 am

    That graphic is extremely misleading. You should pick graphics that present a similar message as the message you are trying to present in your article.

    Reply
    • P

      Pepe pigMar 23, 2017 at 7:57 am

      I am with you dude. only one of them is superior. They all deny eachother

      Reply
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Schools should recognize non-Christian religious holidays