The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and while many will participate in traditional holidays, not all cultures celebrate the same things the same ways.
Because the goal of the Center for Inclusion at UPMC is to ensure that inclusion is at the core of what we do every day, it’s important to understand the wide spectrum of religious customs, traditions, and holidays.
Inclusion is the acceptance of others through understanding and honoring differences. Promoting inclusion in patient and family care involves cultural competency. The heart of cultural competency is understanding cultural differences. Understanding differences leads to acceptance of others and opportunity for all.
Let’s take a brief look at some holidays that many of our neighbors may be celebrating during this time.
Deepavali/Divali: This colorful festival, also known as the festival of lights, is considered one of the most important festivals in the Hindu faith. This festival usually falls around late October and November. A custom during the festival is to light oil lamps on the morning of Deepavali. By lighting the oil lamps, Hindus are thanking the gods for the happiness, knowledge, peace, and wealth they have received.
Eid-al-Adha or Feast of Sacrifice: Eid al-Adha or Feast of Sacrifice is the most important feast of the Muslim calendar. Held on Nov. 16, the main thought behind this holiday is to recognize that all blessings come from God, and should be shared with others. This three-day celebration is about spending time with family and friends, sacrifice, and thanksgiving for being able to afford food and housing. It concludes the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
Chanukah: Chanukah is a festival of lights that occurs in early or late winter for eight days. It commemorates the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem in 165 BCE, when oil for one day lit the lamp of the eternal flame for eight days. Each night of the holiday, successive candles are lit on the eight-branched menorah. Traditional foods are prepared in oil, and children play with spinning tops (dreidels) inscribed in Hebrew, “A great miracle happened there.”
Whether our co-workers or neighbors hold a strong religious tradition or have no religious beliefs, we recognize that all people deserve dignity and respect. How will you champion dignity and respect during this upcoming holiday season?