West Side Story

Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day. All popular holidays or celebrations in the world, right? Well if you haven’t noticed or didn’t know, they’re all Christian celebrations. Anyone you ask will immediately know one of the holidays that were just stated. But what if you asked them about any other religious holiday such as Shabbat or Al-Hijra? It’s most likely that unless they follow that religion, they won’t know what you’re talking about. This is an important topic to mention because even though most of the world population is Christian, it’s worth discussing and acknowledging other religions’ celebrations even if we don’t follow them. 

Firstly, Christian holidays are frequently celebrated around the world, but most often in the US, because most people believe in Christianity. In 2019, according to Gallup, 93% of Americans said that they celebrate Christmas. Twenty five years earlier, 96% of Americans had said that they celebrated Christmas. This shows that over time, as the population of the US increased, so did the amount of people with different religions and beliefs. In another 2017 survey from the Pew Research Center, 95% of Christians said that they celebrate Christmas. However, even though many people celebrate Christmas, the religious aspect of it seems to be replaced by more and more consumerism. The Research Center did another survey and there, 46% of Americans said that they celebrate Christmas for the religious aspect of it and not the cultural one.

Another survey that the Pew Research Center conducted in 2017, was about what Americans prefer to hear when they go into stores. About 52% of people said that they don’t care about how they are greeted, while about 15% voted that they would rather be greeted with “Happy holidays,” while 32% of Americans said that they wanted to be greeted with “Merry Christmas.” Even so, a few years before, 43% of people had chosen to be greeted with “Merry Christmas,” proving that the US’ religious landscape has changed. 

ISL too is striving to have a variety of celebrations from different cultures. Over the years, the school has been trying to include other religions since it is an international school. An example of how our school has been trying to succeed is through service activity. The CC Club is a service activity where students learn about different celebrations from different countries and cultures, and then they teach it to all the classes in middle school. Thankfully, this service has many people who want to learn and share about the different rituals and traditions around the world. Alongside the CC Club, ISL has many different activities for primary and secondary school where they organize different events that the school community can celebrate such as Holi, Hanukkah, and many more. This school has been working hard every year, but we can do much more and widen the variety of celebrations our school acknowledges and celebrates. It could be possible to look more into celebrations from less recognized countries and try to bring them to light with the privilege our school has and gives us.  

In the end, Christian celebrations are the most known around the world, but countries with mostly Christian populations are slowly becoming more diverse. At the same time, ISL is making an effort to explore more traditions around the world that can be included in students’ everyday school life.