Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
– Chinese Proverb
Originally Published December, 2017
The days are short, the nights are cold and dark, but everywhere you look, lights are twinkling.
For thousands of years, cultures from every corner of the globe have brightened the shortest and darkest days of the year by incorporating celebrations of light into cultural and religious traditions. These celebrations typically took place around the the time of the winter solstice and promised the return of the sun, the source of all light and warmth on earth. Ancient solstice traditions included celebrations of the gods of light such as the Roman Saturnalia, Iranian Mithras, and Egyptian Horus celebrations, as well as Scandinavian Juul (Yule) traditions, Indian Lohri celebrations, and Mayan fire rituals. These practices were meant to unite the populations and act as a reminder that brighter days were ahead. Millennia later, cultures around the world continue to celebrate winter holidays with light. These shared traditions show us the beauty of a varied yet interconnected world, one in which we can all appreciate the feeling of peace created by a light to guide us home, the joy of a fire to keep us warm, and the love of family and friends around us when days are at their coldest, shortest, and darkest. This makes December a perfect month to focus on diversity.
The study of diversity hinges on building a culture of awareness, acceptance, and respect regarding difference and identity. It promotes social responsibility and the creation of conscious global citizens. Students of diversity learn about equity and inclusion in regard to difference, and also learn to identify barriers to equity and inclusion. Most importantly, those who study diversity learn to view difference as a source of light.
We strive every day, as educators and parents, to give our children tools for effective and respectful communication and interaction with others, especially those from whom they feel the most different and/or with whom they disagree. We ask them to look for the goodness in others and to understand the goodness in themselves. Lastly we help them to understand that they have the power and the responsibility to share the best of themselves with others. We hope that they will remember that when the going gets tough and things look bleak, they hold within themselves a light that may help to unite others and bring joy to the world. And when they see a spark of light in others, we hope that they will open a space within themselves and let it in.
Before the year winds down and we all scatter in different directions, we would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season and a joyful and prosperous New Year. Thank you for the light you bring to our community every day. We hope that as you gather with family and friends, you find an opportunity to light a candle together and to appreciate one another’s warmth and light.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Serendipity School!