COLUMN: America centralizes Christmas as its winter holiday


Ellen Dooley

Ellen Dooley, Columnist

As we approach the holiday season, there are some things I keep seeing. Christmas, everything is Christmas. While it is a widely celebrated holiday, it is important to realize that other winter holidays exist. The first day of Hanukkah was Sunday. I felt like there was no big celebration. There were no days off.

Even though I do not celebrate Hanukkah, I recognize the importance it is to the Jewish community. I feel like all I heard Sunday was shopping deals and returning back to work after Thanksgiving. We have such a big lead up to Christmas, why not other winter holidays?

Whenever you go out to mall, restaurant or other public places, it is always Christmas. Not Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or any other winter holiday. I never noticed this until now. I grew up and still celebrate Christmas, but I know people who do not. How do they feel being surrounded by a holiday they never knew or recognized?  

While growing up, we always had Christmas parties with Santa and reindeer. I do not see any grade schools throwing Hanukkah parties or teaching students about the holiday this week. Some schools might, but where I came from, we never had anything like that.  

The awkward encounter at the checkout line always seems to happen. Some people like to just say “Merry Christmas” to everyone without knowing what they celebrate. I always opt for neutral “Happy Holidays.” I work at a Christmas tree farm. Even though people were buying Christmas trees, I caught myself saying “Happy Holidays.” 

For those who celebrate Christmas, we get a break to go home and be with our families. For those who celebrate Hanukkah, they are back at school and work. For me, it would be a little emotionally tolling. If I did not get to spend that time with my family, I would be upset. 

But my location and what I celebrate is one thing. If I were from any other part of the world, that may be different. I only experience what has been celebrated in my family for countless years. I know my friends and family back home also back home have celebrated this holiday for countless years.  

In the world we live in, we are able to learn about holidays from all over the world. Some people are just used to one when there are so many out there. Regardless of what is locally celebrated, all of these holidays are equally important to those who celebrate them.

I do not celebrate these holidays though. I do not know what it is like. From my perspective, it feels like commercialized Christmas is everywhere you look. All I can do is learn from those who do celebrate and respect their customs and traditions.  

Ellen Dooley is a freshman special education major. She can be contacted at 581-2812 or [email protected]