Celebrating the Holidays with Diverse Traditions

Winter 2019

Dear Pacific community,

For many around the globe, this time of year is sacred. This is true for the many people of faith at Pacific University, a community that finds strength in the religious and cultural diversity represented by our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. While not all religious traditions celebrate holidays during this period, some very important occasions are about to be celebrated:      

The Winter Solstice, which takes place on Dec. 21 (the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere), marks the symbolic death and rebirth of the sun. Numerous religious and secular celebrations related to different traditions occur on that day.

Hanukkah (also called the Festival of Lights), which this year begins on Dec. 24, is a time in which Jews commemorate the rededication of the Second Temple in Israel.

Christmas, when Christians remember the story of Jesus’ birth, occurs Dec. 25 for Protestants and Roman CatholicsOrthodox Christians will celebrate Christmas Jan. 7. 

Kwanzaa, a Pan-African holiday which celebrates family, community, and culture, is a newer tradition celebrated among many African-Americans. It began Dec. 6.  

This can be a joyful time for many, but it is important to remember that for some, a season like this can increase feelings of isolation or loneliness.  Please know that the Student Counseling Center and our Employee Assistance Program are available as resources. I am also available to anyone who might want to connect by emailing chuck.currie@pacificu.edu.    

If you are looking for opportunities to celebrate any of these traditions that occur during Winter Break, please visit the Center for Peace and Spirituality webpages for a listing of religious and spiritual communities.  

As we celebrate these important holidays, it is worth stepping outside whatever tradition we might hold and acknowledging the importance of other belief systems outside our own.  Pluralism is an important concept that binds our diversity together in the belief that our community is stronger when we can honor and respect one another. During a period in time when hate crimes have increased in the United States, it is critical that those of us at Pacific University stand up for one another and report any incidents of bias we may witness or experience.

This should be a time of peace for all the world.  We know, however, that these are divisive times.  As all of us at Pacific University seek to fulfill our mission of creating a more “just world,” look for opportunities to build peace. If nothing else, reach out to those around you with a spirit of extravagant welcome. Let the spirit of love embodied in this season connect with our hearts, so that we might spread that love to those around us.

Wishing you a blessed winter break.

In Peace,
Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie
Director, Center for Peace and Spirituality
University Chaplain

Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019