Counterpoint: Should religion influence winter holiday celebrations in school?

Natasha Talukdar, Assistant Opinions Editor

During the cold winter months, holiday themed events and celebrations become a common tradition for many schools, including Schreiber.

While the festive decorations of Christmas trees and menorahs may be a regularity and a joyful thing for many students, this type of tradition doesn’t belong in school.

Think back to the days of elementary school.  Did you ever feel left out from hearing that some of your friends were getting presents for Christmas, or a gift a day for Hanukkah?

Even at a young age, many students may have felt alienated that some of their friends were celebrating holidays that they normally did not celebrate due to their religion.

Schreiber hosts multiple events that incorporate religion with school celebrations.

“I think Schreiber does a very good job of creating a pluralistic environment,” said senior Leah Weingast.  “I do feel that religion and school are definitely separated, even when holiday celebrations take place.”

The holiday celebrations that take place in school are not extremely serious or offensive, though.

For example, the choir goes caroling every year, and sometimes incorporates songs that are in Hebrew or mention Christian figures.

“I do not think that choir caroling and Hebrew songs should be a part of those celebrations because we are a public school,” said Weingast.  “The songs that do have religious ideals in them may be offensive to students who practice a certain religion.  But I personally don’t have a problem with a song like ‘Frosty the Snowman.’”

Yes, this time of year is the most joyous and festive, and many students and faculty in our school look forward to the holiday break during the last few weeks of December.  During this time, there is often a happier spirit in the air, both from the students and faculty.

The anticipation of getting tests finished, and for many seniors, their college applications out of the way, are often motivations for students.

Students should be able to enjoy this warm cheery period without having the issue of religion making them uncomfortable.

“The small celebrations that do happen and the songs that are sung are a nice little touch to the holiday season,” said senior Ariana DiPreta.  “It lifts up our spirits of being pressured by all of the tests that are given right before break.  If something is made too religious, I can definitely understand how it can be seen as a violation of church and state, but I don’t think that it’s ever gone too far.”

There are, in fact, many students who celebrate minority religions, and do not participate in the same holiday celebrations as the majority.

Some students may feel very left out and uncomfortable with other fellow students talking about their holiday plans.

“Non-religious students would feel alienated when seeing their peers and teachers participating in holiday events,” said junior Erica Andrew.

Religion does not have to be part of school events, as the holiday season is all about being together, and not necessarily having a reason to celebrate.

“The majority of both religious and non-religious students alike celebrate a winter holiday  in our school,” said senior Ariana DiPreta.  “I think its all about the idea of the holiday; the giving, caring, and living aspect.”

Religious holidays should be spent at  home, and not expressed in major school events.  Students should feel comfortable in school, especially during the winter holiday period.