Sarah Guerrero is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. She has a degree in international business from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and writes about sustainable business practices and ethical living.
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This year, I'm challenging myself to look at the holidays a little differently.
I don’t know about you, but my family’s holiday traditions are deeply rooted in ritual - they’re passed down through the generations and beloved as an ancestral connection. The more I learn about what these traditions look like for others, the more I realize how connected we all are, even in our differences. This year, I challenged myself to look at the holiday season through a new lens, exploring holidays belonging to cultures other than my own.
Stepping outside of your personal traditions helps you think critically about how you view the world around you, and it encourages you to question how you engage with that world. If you’d like to look at the holidays a little differently this year, too, I encourage you to find ways to go deeper! While it’s necessary to respect the sacredness of certain traditions, there are many ways to educate yourself or get involved. Support others in their celebrations, learn more about the holidays they hold dear, and participate in (or honor the spirit of) the holiday however you can.
If you’d like to look at the holidays a little differently this year, too, I encourage you to find ways to go deeper! Support others in their celebrations, learn more about the holidays they hold dear, or respectfully participate in the spirit of the event however you can.
Día de los Muertos--November 2
Día de los Muertos, which means Day of the Dead in Spanish, is celebrated in Mexico and by Mexican-Americans throughout the United States. It’s a beautiful mix of art, grief, family, and a celebration of life.
Small ways you can learn more about Día de los Muertos:
Diwali is a Hindu celebration known as the “festival of lights.” It celebrates the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil, and actually lasts five days. Hindus celebrate by spending time with each other (which, of course, includes feasting!), setting off fireworks, cleaning and decorating homes, wearing new clothes, and giving each other gifts.
Small ways you can learn more about Diwali:
Donate to the Anti-Racist Children’s Books Education Fund to help confront growing anti-immigration and racist attitudes in the United States and build a safe place for Indian-Americans
Hanukkah--December 10-December 18
Hanukkah is a Jewish festival with a long, beautiful history. Like Diwali, Hanukkah is known as the Festival of Lights. To celebrate Hanukkah, a menorah, a type of candelabrum with nine candles, is lit each night and a prayer is said. Jewish families also celebrate with traditional foods like latkes and playing games with dreidels.
Small ways you can learn more about Hanukkah:
Donate to the Anti-Defamation League to combat hate and intolerance of all kinds, including anti-semitism
Kwanzaa--December 26-January 1
Kwanzaa was created by Maulana Karenga in 1966 to give Black Americans an opportunity to celebrate themselves, their history, and values like unity, working together, and faith. On December 31, Kwanzaa is celebrated with a feast, and on January 1, it’s celebrated with thoughtful, often hand-made gifts that celebrate African heritage and culture.
Small ways you can learn more about Kwanzaa:
Spring Festival & Lunar New Year--February 4
In 2022, February 4th marks the new year on the traditional Chinese calendar and the start of the 15-day Chinese celebration known as the Spring Festival. Chinese people celebrate by decorating with red (it symbolizes good luck), eating symbolic foods like dumplings (they symbolize wealth), and gifting children and young adults with red envelopes filled with money. The last day of the festival is a full moon; lanterns are lit and hung everywhere.
We only had room to scratch the surface on all the amazing holidays this fall/winter (other fun holidays to learn more about: Día de Reyes, Boxing Day, Las Posadas, and the Winter Solstice).