An Opportunity for Inclusion: Embracing non-Catholic Religious Holidays

by The Cowl Editor on December 6, 2018


Photo of a menorah.
In order to better embrace other religions’ holidays, there should be a menorah lighting for students who celebrate Hanukkah. Photo courtesy of iStock.

by Emily Ball ’22

Opinion Staff

Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, Chinese New Year—all of these holidays are part of various religions and cultures and there are millions who celebrate them. As a Dominican institution, Providence College celebrates Christmas. Various Christmas-themed events take place and Christmas trees decorate most buildings. However, PC should celebrate and respect the holidays of other religions as well.

Some may argue that PC’s label as a Catholic college infers that the school should solely promote Catholic holidays. However, PC is a diverse campus with students coming from different countries, different backgrounds, and different religions. 

In fact, PC was the first college in Rhode Island to welcome students of every faith, and students with no faith. The College also has a long, close connection with the Jewish community. In fact, some of the College’s most devoted teachers and alumni are Jewish.

Because of the large number of students who practice religions and come from cultures other than Catholicism, PC must be inclusive towards their traditions. 

The PC website stresses the College’s emphasis on embracing the diversity of the students from different cultures and religions: “As a Catholic and Dominican institution, diversity is a key component of our collective pursuit of truth, promoting rigorous exploration of diverse ideas and theories, critical engagement with the world, cross-cultural understanding, innovation in problem-solving, and collaboration across differences within and beyond the classroom.”

In order to embrace the diversity on campus, PC must include celebrations and events for the non-Catholic holidays that many students do celebrate; have a night to play dreidel in McPhail’s for Hanukkah, or serve traditional African food in Raymond Dining Hall for Kwanzaa.   

Students who do not celebrate Christmas may feel left out when they walk past the Christmas trees and events posted promoting only Christmas celebrations. Including other holidays will unify the campus on the basis of our differences.

Further, diversifying the campus’ holiday celebrations will allow other students to experiencing the traditions of different cultures and religions. A big part of the college experience is trying new things and experience new ideas; having a diverse range of events for all of the holidays will allow students to do so. 

“I think it would be really interesting to be able to experience Hanukkah celebrations or any other holiday other than Christmas,” Chris Matthews ’22 said. “I know not all of the students here are Catholic so I think having events for the other religions would be beneficial.”

PC should include events on campus that celebrate holidays other than Christmas. This change would not only promote inclusion, but also unify PC students.