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Happiness for All Holidays

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Antonio Renterias
December 4, 2023

The list of reasons to feel uncertain about our time and place on this globe seems to grow without end. Climate change, war, disrupted labor and supply markets heighten insecurities about our own safety and status. It is the sense that all yesterday’s disasters are forgotten when today’s problems are there to fill us with dread. It becomes harder for us to recognize that these feelings of uncertainty have always persisted in one form or another, and one tried and true way to help alleviate these feelings is to engage in rituals or cultural traditions. Perhaps no greater expression of ritual behavior touches more people in the United States than our cultural tradition of celebrating the holiday season.

The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration for most of us, but it can also be a time of reverence and solemnity for those who may not celebrate in the same manner. A DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) approach to the holiday season invites us all to recognize and respect the diversity of cultures, religions and traditions that exist within our communities and workplaces. 

An essential part of creating inclusive holidays is respecting that not everyone at work or in your neighborhood honors the holidays in the same way. Between November and January, several holidays are celebrated throughout the world by different cultures, but Christmas and Thanksgiving take precedence in many American families and organizations. We can help create more diversity and inclusion during the holidays by recognizing and embracing all types of celebrations. In addition to religious traditions, holidays are also driven by cultural history and nationality, and those things should be acknowledged and celebrated.

Recognizing important cultural events and holidays for all religions throughout the year with a multicultural holiday calendar is a great way to highlight inclusivity. Hearing from people’s experiences who celebrate these holidays helps them feel valued when they’re included in the holiday conversation.

Celebrating the holidays in an inclusive way is a great way to foster a sense of belonging and respect for diversity. Here are some ideas to consider: 

  1. Create a diverse holiday calendar: Recognize important cultural events and holidays for all religions throughout the year with a multicultural holiday calendar. Consulting with friends and relatives who celebrate these holidays will help them feel valued when they’re included in the celebration. 
  2. Decorating contests: Bring out your creativity with decorating contests. These work great for any holiday, be it Halloween, Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa or Christmas. Decorate tables, decorate cookies or create and decorate gingerbread houses. The possibilities are endless! These are great for some time to relax and have fun together. 
  3. Holiday party: Big events are great times to celebrate inclusively. Some holiday party ideas include: fancy gala where folks dress up and enjoy catered food, casual dining with games, snacks and a raffle, digital holiday party for family and friends that are apart with trivia, virtual games and packages of goodies, get together at a matinee, ugly sweater competition with prizes, party games and food. 

Celebrating the holidays in an inclusive way recognizes and respects the cultures, religions and traditions that exist within our communities. By embracing all types of celebrations and recognizing important cultural events and holidays, we can create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone. 

Author: Antonio Renteria works as a Senior Analyst for the Mendocino County Department of Social Services. He currently serves as their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator and Civil Rights Officer. Antonio was born and raised in Mendocino County and is greatly honored to serve the community that gave him so much. Antonio joined ASPA in 2022 as part of the Bay Area Chapter and George Frederickson Center for Social Equity. You can reach Antonio at [email protected]

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