Holidays Should Be a Celebration of Differences

Sean Kennedy
Sean Kennedy

Well, it’s that time of year again.

Congratulations everyone for making it to finals week, and to those of you who may fall in the battle that awaits us, we salute you. Once the last pencil falls and the last desk empties, we can look forward to reuniting with friends and family during what is my favorite time of the year: the Holiday season.


Unfortunately, this time of year is continually mired by a debate by some over the “purpose” of the holidays (see: keep the Christ in Christmas).

Some people don’t seem to understand that, much like religion, how one celebrates during the holidays is their choice. Be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or the worship of L. Ron Hubbard, everyone is allowed to commemorate this time however they please. The only thing that matters, in my opinion, is that everyone spend it together with the people that they love.

We should not be chastising each other for our beliefs. Our differences are what make us who we are, and diversity is what makes our country strong in the first place. This debate bears no fruit and has no place among the festivities of the month. The holidays should be a celebration of our differences and of togetherness.

We all celebrate our own way, and the only place for labels is on gifts. For example, I was raised in a Lutheran family, and still celebrate “Christmas” despite having taken a different path spiritually. It’s nice that some people are able to bond over the religious aspects of Christmas, but it’s not fair for them to expect everyone to. Revering Christ is just their spin that they put on this time of year, and it is selfish to try to make that the standard.

However you choose to celebrate is acceptable, as long as you’re together with others, it doesn’t matter if it’s around a menorah or a manger (though around a turkey is my preference). I know the Lord’s Prayer by heart and I still go to church on Christmas Eve, despite not having any spiritual stake in it.  The focus should be on community and brotherhood, regardless of your level of spiritual fervor.  Why else would the weather be so cold, if not to bring us closer together?

Another aspect of the annual holiday debate that needs to stop is the question of public religious displays. On one hand, as I said before, religion is a personal thing that should not be flaunted, which would mean there should not be any décor or religious paraphernalia in public spaces during the holidays. However, I also said that we should celebrate our differences, which would mean the status quo.

I’m no Grinch, so religious displays and décor in public areas are okay, in my opinion, as long as there is equal representation among all groups. I understand that most people in this country are Christian, but other groups have to be given an equal voice, or it might start to feel like we’re living amongst a giant cult here.

Plus, if we don’t give other small groups a chance to have a voice, we would be ignoring the greatest strength of our country: multiculturalism.  Diversity is what made our country strong to begin with, almost like we’re the All-Star team made up of all the countries’ best. We should celebrate the combination of all cultures that make up our country, and have them represented in public holiday displays. However, if it cannot be equal, then there can be no public representation at all. To give one group more attention or ignore others would misrepresent us as a nation and ignore what makes us great and unique. Therefore, I am of the opinion that public religious displays are perfectly acceptable as long as there is representation for all cultures.

Holiday celebration is similar to religious practices, wherein it is a personal thing that has different meaning for every individual. It is something that should be cherished, but not flaunted. Our differences are what make us special, and they should not only be tolerated, but appreciated. In the holiday spirit of togetherness, let’s come together and foster appreciation of one another’s differences. However you choose to celebrate, have a happy holiday season and a vibrant start to next year.

Sean Kennedy is a freshman whose goal for the New Year is to pick a major. Love, hate, and cat videos can be sent to