As a child, I grew up in a catholic family, going to Catholic school, celebrating Christmas. Christmas was all I really knew until I learned about different faiths and traditions in middle school. I was always confused and interested in the different ways people celebrated this time of year but I was never truly educated on anything but the Catholic way of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. As I grew older and out of my small state of Rhode Island, going to Cathloic school my whole life, I came to GW and became friends with people of different religions and traditions. I was amazed by the way each religion and culture celebrated these holidays and was happy to hear all about them. As I was listening to my peers talking about how they were going to celebrate during this season, I started to remember more about the Jewish faith, because I was taught a little, but I never really learned about Kwanzaa. I felt disappointed in myself that I never really learned anything about this holiday and I wanted to educate myself. I realized going to a school that specifies one religion, I failed to learn about others and how they all celebrate this time of year. Unlike Christmas and Hanukkah, Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, but a cultural one celebrated by African Americans and Africans. I always just thought it was another religious holiday, but it is much more, Kwanzaa celebrates African heritage, gatherings between family and friends, and the reflection on seven African values. As for Hanukkah, it’s an 8 day celebration celebrating the Jewish victory and the miracle of the oil, and their most famous tradition is lighting the menorah.
With all of these traditions, we see a common pattern of coming together and celebrating something special and reflection on our values. But, as we have seen in the world, there have always been controversies. Many people and religions have fought because why is there a christmas tree up and not a menorah? Or why is Christmas so important compared to other traditions? Is Christmas offensive to other cultures? Is it too religious? or not religious enough? Many of these questions and controversies arise when the holiday season comes around and it can lead to deviance. The lack of social control is what led Christmas to be the “superior” holiday because many cities, especially in the United States, put up Christmas trees and decorate for the season. Although these traditions are important for some people, they do not mean much to all people,therefore leaving other traditions and holidays left out. Why should there be a Christmas tree in Times Square? Why is that the only ritual celebrated? Why not celebrate Kwanzaa or Hanukkah rituals too? Governors are allowing Christmas trees to be put up and ignoring the lack of traditions from other cultures. To many, these acts of unthoughtfulness to other cultures and religions can be seen as deviant. Just because we grow up around a certain faith or tradition does not mean we should ignore others, even if our government is. All of these cultures honor these faiths for a reason and pass down different traditions to their families and friends out of love and respect, but its hard to see that love and respect between different religious beliefs, even if you don't believe in anything. We become deviant with each other, and with our peers arguing and fighting for what we believe in and what we think is right when our government is not shedding light on this matter of inclusion.
With the holidays coming around, especially this year, it is important to be thinking of all people and supportive because each religion and culture is important to someone and should be honored and not left out. We need to educate ourselves on other cultures and be respectful, not deviant, even though our government can be. Social control and deviance go hand and hand because when there is a lack of social control, people can become deviant.