‘Holiday Season’ for students of different religions 


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From regions all around Mississippi and of different backgrounds, MSMS students share their unique experiences and perspectives on the holiday season.

Katy Chen, Staff Writer

Whenever most of us think of Christmas, we automatically think of pretty lights, decorating an obnoxiously large tree in the living room, and Mariah Carey songs playing on a never-ending loop from November to January. For some people, the holiday season is a time for celebrating the birth of a Christian deity, for others, it’s nothing more than buying copious amounts of presents, spending time with family and lots of hot cocoa.

With approximately 2 billion celebrants worldwide, Christmas is a widely-recognized holiday in many countries and is celebrated both religiously and non-religiously. For those familiar with the religious aspects of Christmas, the story of the Nativity is the reason for celebrations. The Nativity tells the story of the angels, shepherds and wise men bearing witness to the birth of Jesus Christ. 

For many Christians, like senior Shelby Tisdale, Christmas is a time to come together and commemorate this occasion.

“I’ve attended a really unique southern Baptist church since I was seven years old,” Tisdale said. “Every Christmas Eve we have a special service to celebrate the birth of Christ, and on Christmas morning, we serve a meal to homeless men and women in the community.”

Tisdale also stressed the importance of sharing the love of Christ with others and fostering a sense of community to celebrate Christmas.

”I think service is an essential part of sharing the spirit of Christlike love that is so intertwined with the holiday,” Tisdale said. 

However, to some, the holiday season is not so much of a religious celebration as it is a time to come together and celebrate giving gifts to and being near the ones they love. For instance, many atheists, agnostics, pagans, Wiccans and witchcraft practitioners celebrate the holiday while giving it a different meaning. 

Fiona Dawe, who grew up non-religious in England and Arizona, shared how religion does not have much importance in her Christmas celebrations. 

“I grew up in a place that was pretty non-religious, so, to me, Christmas has never been a religious holiday,” Dawe said. “I didn’t realize there was religion involved until I was a lot older, but we just see family, exchange gifts and put up a tree.”

Junior Lauren Rutherford shared their own experiences and opinions about the holiday season from the perspective of a witchcraft practitioner. 

“I practice witchcraft with pagan leanings, and I am also agnostic,” Rutherford said. “I have always grown up with Christmas being more of a holiday of giving than any religion, so in my mind, Christmas is just a time where I am with my family and friends giving each other gifts.”

For those with Islamic beliefs, Christmas is often not celebrated or given religious meaning. 

Junior Raeed Kabir shared how to him, the holiday season is simply a break to relax and enjoy time with family. 

“I am Muslim and we are very specific about the holidays we celebrate,” Raeed Kabir said. “We don’t do Christmas, Easter, Halloween or any religion during the winter season. The Christmas season is simply a break from school that is very much needed. That’s all it means to me as a non-celebrator.”

Similarly, Hindus do not celebrate the holiday season and just see it as a break as well. The closest holiday which they celebrate to Christmas is Diwali, the festival of lights, to celebrate good overcoming evil. 

“I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I like that I have the time to see my extended family. Normally we meet up at someone’s house and just spend a week or two together but this year, for safety reasons, we’ll be on video chat,” senior Aabha Mantri said.

Despite the holiday season not being celebrated by all, it is still a time when many MSMS students are able to connect with one another. The diversity, both culturally and religiously, at MSMS has created an atmosphere of inclusivity and has allowed students to feel free to practice their religious beliefs. 

“The holiday season is unique and personal to everyone, which is what the beauty of the season is,” Mantri said. “One thing that is common for everyone though is that it is a time of acceptance of others’ traditions and beliefs.”