I was surfing around the internet, the night of Thanksgiving one year and saw this meme.
And it really made me think about holidays and celebration and the meaning and purpose of celebrating. There are only a few European holidays that my family REALLY and TRULY ever celebrated but the thought of giving them up, led me to think about what could I replace them with.
So we celebrate New Years Eve, we call it Old Years night and we usually go to church. We celebrate New Years day with a traditional Antiguan meal at my aunt’s house, we celebrate Good Friday, by not eating any meat, we celebrate Easter with church. Memorial Day and 4th of July, eh, not so much, we’re just glad for the days off. Labor Day for me is all about the West Indian American Parade in Brooklyn. Columbus Day….chuppps…that’s Miami Carnival and signifies the end of my soca party season. We do, celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, though Christmas is also known as my little sister’s birthday.
So, I guess for me it’s not really about NOT celebrating European holidays but more about actually celebrating Afro Caribbean Diasporic holidays.
So that night many years ago I vowed to celebrate more holidays that acknowledge my beliefs, my people, my hopes for the future and my culture. The holidays of Europeans, are not evil, BUT they have been commercialized and a lot of them were built on the decimation and destruction of non whites and that deserves no celebration, from me. It is not about hating others with the readjusting of my celebratory holidays, it is ALL about loving myself and my people.
I called my new celebration schedule the Diasporic holiday schedule. So, in this schedule, I celebrate West African inspired holidays, Caribbean and more specifically Antigua holidays and American Holidays. Oh and there are a few holidays that celebrate nature and important people. There’s a lot to celebrate!
Winter Solstice; December 21st
Sister’s Birthday; December 25th
Kwanzaa; December 25th-December 31st
Family Gathering; January 1st (Happy New Year)
3rd Monday of January; Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Black History Month
Black Love Day; February 13th
Woman’s History Month
Harriet Tubman Day: March 10th
Emancipation Day (USA); April 16th
3rd Sunday in May; Malcolm X Day
May 19th: Malcolm X’s Bday
Last Monday in May; Beginning of Soca Season
Caribbean American Heritage Month
Juneteenth; June 19th (Marks the ending of slavery in America)
2nd Sunday of June (Odunde Festival); June 14th (Happy New Year)
Summer Solstice; June 21st
Nelson Mandela Day; July 18th
Emancipation Day in the Caribbean; August 1st
Marcus Garvey’s Birthday: August 17th
My Birth Day; August 24th (Happy New Year)
1st Monday in September; West Indian American Day Parade
Festival for Yemaya; September 7th
Festival for Oshun; September 8th
Festival for Obatala; September 24th
Hispanic Heritage Month
2nd Monday in October; End of Soca Season (Miami Carnival)
Native American Heritage Month
Antiguan Independence Day; November 1st
Indigenous People’s Day; 4th Thursday of November
Can you imagine if schools, ie you, began to bring awareness to these celebrations and holidays into your classroom. I mean, you don’t have to celebrate the unofficial beginning of my soca feteing season but you can definitely celebrate Black Love Day. Even more importantly, you can ask your students and their families about their holidays and how they celebrate them.
It was recently in the news that Brooklyn Tech HS is having their prom during Ramadan. The muslim student population at Brooklyn Tech has requested that the day be changed, to which the school’s response was 1st they will not (no surprise) and secondly that this day has been on the calendar for months. To which I reply, not longer than Ramadan has been on the calendar. Ijs.
So these students are left with a choice to make, more than likely, many will elect not to go to prom. Maybe they’ll create a space for their own celebration that respects their faith.
What’s so disheartening about Tech’s response is that this year, well last year the NYCDOE added muslim holidays and the Chinese New Year to the list of holidays schools will observe. But because no one was checking for muslim students they have this mess on their hands. ANd I get it. Trying to change the date and possibly the location of prom so late in the game is nearly impossible.
I offer you this though, if we began to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of the Diaspora and our holidays and celebrations we wouldn’t have these issues popping up.
So as you look to close out the year and reflecting on the year, reflect on how to keep the identity of our very diverse student body at the center of our planning.
Who am I kidding? Not none of yall are reflecting and planning for next year. Lol. I’ll send this reminder in August.