As the school calendar draws near to winter break, students and educators throughout the Vancouver School District have been getting festive with many holiday celebrations.
December is a month with several cultural, seasonal, and religious holidays. This year, Chanukkah – the Jewish festival of lights – concluded on the evening of December 6. Guest writer Jessi Fogell, the District’s education coordinator, shared a story detailing many special traditions and meaning of Chanukkah as well as her own family’s celebrations.
As the days become shorter and winter solstice nears, students and staff at Xpey’ elementary held a pipe ceremony to celebrate. The winter solstice holds significance across a variety of cultures, as it signals the changing of the seasons. This year, it occurs Tuesday, December 21. It marks the astronomical first day of winter in the northern hemisphere and is known as the shortest day (therefore longest night) of the year.
As decorations and lights brighten the dark days of December, food, music, and festive displays abound as we usher in Christmas celebrations. Whether celebrations embody the meaning of Christmas or the secular merriments of the season, it is magical time of year for many bringing together family and friends.
Quick on the heels of Christmas, is Heri Za Kwanzaa! Observed from December 26 to January 1, the pan-African cultural holiday celebrates family and community. During the holiday, families celebrate with feasts, music, and dance. It is also a time of special reflection upon the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith).
Once again, this year’s holiday celebrations will look different with considerations of health and safety precautions. But the pandemic has not dimmed the enthusiasm of students. Indeed, the hope, joy and optimism of the seasonal festivities is evident in children’s artwork.
Whether you observe one or all of these occasions, everyone at the District hopes the joy and happiness of this month’s festive celebrations abound for all, and, that 2022 brings many wonderful things for students, their families, staff and our partners. Happy Holidays!