Prioritize National History Months over frivolous holidays

April 1, 2020 — by Lihi Shoshani
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If asked to name one holiday in March, most people would say St. Patrick’s Day. Many would forget that March is also National Women’s History Month. 

It’s understandable that people continue to celebrate cultural, day-long holidays because they’re traditions. These notable holidays are important and shouldn’t be retired, but it’s essential to give greater consideration to newer, more progressive holidays like Black History Month and Women’s History Month. National history months honor cultures and races and are ones that admit to our nation’s  mistakes and do something to change them.

It’s also important that people look into holidays and their histories before blindly celebrating them. For example, students are taught about Christopher Columbus and the country has an entire day dedicated to him, even though he was a ruthless colonizer and hurt many Native Americans. His actions don’t align with values that America represents like equality, diversity and freedom.

In some states, Columbus Day is now celebrated as Indigenous Peoples’ Day to bring greater awareness to Europeans’ conquest of America. Changing the name of this holiday calls attention to the Native Americans’ cultural losses, which honors the hardships Native Americans went through instead of letting tradition take over. All 50 states should adapt to this holiday and begin to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day.

Without more attention paid to these progressive holidays, the only days that will stand out will be irrelevant holidays that don’t hold any true meaning. This includes Halloween and Valentines Day since they’re only celebrated because they’re fun, which shouldn’t be the criteria for holidays. By celebrating more progressive holidays, America is acknowledging its past mistakes and drawing inspiration from people who created change for these groups.

Such month-long holidays aren’t taught about in schools and don’t have scheduled celebrations. Schools should have teachers incorporate into their lesson what these minorities went through to reach where they are now in a way that celebrates these holidays but doesn’t lecture students on these groups’ pasts. This can be done by incorporating games and presentations on the background of these groups to show these holidays’ importance in a  fun and educational manner for young students. 

With their diverse backgrounds, many students at Saratoga High can relate to holidays such as Asian American Heritage and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which occur in May. It’s important to keep a part of their histories alive by having an enjoyable celebration that honors how these groups overcame adversity. 

St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t have to be the only celebrated holiday in March. People can influence the celebration of holidays by beginning to classify and observe ones that are truly important. Sparking change can only happen by understanding the true problem of celebrating trivial holidays and ignoring ones that showcase real people and their problems.

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