Last year, three of the five major religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) had major holidays in the same month, something that only happens every 33 years. This year, they still fall within weeks of each other. As families and communities of different faiths engage in religious traditions across the globe, AmazeWorks invites you to reflect on the important role that religion, faith, and spirituality play in our identity development.
About three in four Americans identify with a specific religious faith. But while 30% of people in the US do not identify as Christian, the dominant norm of Christianity is baked into our school and work calendars and dominant Western culture. Despite this country’s religious diversity, Christian-identifying Americans are often given more space to express and practice their religion than those with different religious identities and traditions.
We need to make room in our schools, workplaces, and public spaces for the incredible diversity of religious holidays and celebrations, even within a specific religion. Respecting other belief systems, and also recognizing that some people do not practice a religion or faith, does not require us to give up our own beliefs. We don’t have to shy away from talking about holidays, including religious holidays and celebrations, in our classrooms and workplaces. Acknowledging someone’s faith by saying Happy Easter, Happy Passover, or Ramadan Mubarak (Blessed Ramadan in Arabic) is honoring a core part of their identity and humanity. Belonging is about making space for every child and adult to show up as all of who they are, including the things that highlight our differences. In this month’s newsletter, we aim to empower our various identities and model ways to advocate for each other’s different human experiences. We hope these anti-bias resources support our amazing community in showing up in all of the fullness of who we are.
Our Favorite Day of the Year
Written by A. E. Ali, Illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell
In this book, the teacher asks each student to share their favorite day of the year for show and tell. Many students share their families’ traditions for various religious holidays, including Eid-al-Fitr, Christmas, and Rosh Hashanah, while one student talks about Pi Day. The teacher affirms the different religious identities present in the classroom and traditions of students without a religious identity.
This video-based lesson for ages 11 and up features a TED talk of a young adult who embraces her Jewish identity. She explains her connection to her cultural and ethnic heritage as well as what it’s taught her about peace and making a difference. She’s hopeful that together, people can rid the world of hate and believes that no one is too small to make a difference. This lesson nurtures healthy complex identities and fosters respect across differences.
Resources on Affirming Religious Identity
- 2023 Religious Holidays and Observances | Camille Leak
- Anti-Bias Education and Holidays: Making Thoughtful Decisions | NAEYC
- 9 Ways to Support Students During Ramadan | We Are Teachers
- Bringing Ramadan into the Classroom | Teaching While Muslim
- Articles and Resources | Positive Judaism
- Jews Talk Racial Justice: On Purim, Joy, and Liberation | Joyous Justice