Create a more inclusive holiday season for Muslim students
As the holiday season approaches, many schools have Christmas-themed activities and celebrations. However, for Muslim students, this time of year can be challenging, as they may feel left out of the festivities that dominate much of the social and cultural landscape. Creating a more inclusive environment during the holiday season can be especially challenging in school settings, where students may come from a variety of different cultural and religious backgrounds.
Although Christmas is an important holiday for many, Muslims do not celebrate Christmas. Organizing Christmas activities at school can cause non-Christian students to feel disconnected and isolated, especially if the student is surrounded by classmates and peers who participate in Christmas activities and traditions.
Christmas challenges for Muslim students
Christmas is a challenging time for Muslim students. In addition to the lack of personal connection to the holiday, Muslim students may also feel left out due to the way Christmas is celebrated in schools and other public spaces. For example, it is common for schools to hold Christmas parties, decorations, and other celebrations, which can make it difficult for Muslim students to fully participate. Similarly, public spaces such as malls and other retail stores can also be heavily decorated and Christmas-focused, which can be overwhelming or uncomfortable for Muslim students. Additionally, the depiction of Christmas in television shows, movies, and other media overwhelms students outside of school.
Tips for Creating a More Welcoming Holiday Season for Muslim Students
The exclusion that Muslim students may feel during the Christmas season can have a significant impact on their mental health and well-being. It can be isolating and demoralizing to feel left out of the celebrations that are so important to the culture around you, and it can be hard to find ways to feel included and connected during this time of year. There are a number of ways that schools, communities, and individuals can work to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for Muslim students during the holiday season.
Seasonal instead of religious:
Have activities at school revolve around the winter season instead of Christmas. Since not all students celebrate Christmas, having school activities focus on the season rather than Christmas can allow everyone to feel included. Christmas is a religious holiday and should not be part of the curriculum or school activities. Making religious minorities sing Christmas songs, participate in Christmas parties, secret Santa gift exchanges, and other similar activities may violate their religious teachings. However, students may feel pressured to participate because they do not want to feel left out. The best route is to have these activities focused solely on the winter season instead of Christmas.
One approach is to offer alternative celebrations and activities that are more inclusive of a wide range of cultures and religions. For example, schools and community organizations could organize events such as cultural fairs that allow students to learn about and celebrate the diverse traditions and cultures of their classmates.
Often major non-Christian holidays come on a day when school is in session and most teachers and staff are sometimes completely unaware that it is a holiday. There have been many cases where there are even important exams or tests scheduled these days. This leads to Muslim students having to choose between going on vacation or suffering the academic consequences. If Christmas is to be celebrated at school, the holidays of other major religions should also be included in the school calendar.
If the school administration insists on having Christmas activities, then the same should be done for the festivities of other major religious traditions. For example, during Ramadan and Eid, schools can also organize educational activities around these important holidays. These activities should be celebrated in schools in the same way that Christmas is celebrated. This will allow Muslim students to feel included.
The importance of recognizing diversity during the holiday season
Ultimately, the key to creating a more inclusive environment for Muslim students during the holiday season is to recognize and respect the diversity of cultures and traditions within a community. By taking steps to be more inclusive and welcoming, schools and communities can create a positive and supportive environment for all students, regardless of their faith or cultural background.
Looking for more resources? Take a look at our Educator’s Guide Booklet.
You have more questions? Call 877-WhyIslam, you deserve to know.