The “Holiday” Spirit

When Branson students hesitantly stepped back onto campus after Thanksgiving break, we were greeted by a cheerful array of holiday decorations. Massive wreaths were hung on the windows of the Commons, red, green, and gold ornaments dangled from the trees in the quad, and several trees were decorated and illuminated in the Commons and Richardson Hall. A few days later, several menorahs were placed around campus and a Kwanzaa sign was hung beside the Common’s tree. While for many of us these decorations seemed like harmless holiday cheer, others noticed the distinctly lacking representation of holidays other than Christmas.

The Christmas tree in the Commons, accompanied by a small menorah and a sign proclaiming “Happy Kwanzaa.”

The Christmas Tree in Richardson Hall.

A few Branson students offered their opinions on the decorations debate. Several remarked on how within our community, we almost always take care to be the most inclusive we can of every aspect of each other’s identity; but when it comes to religion and holiday celebrations, can we say the same? A sophomore was grateful for the festivities, explaining, “It’s very nice that some parents took the time out of their day to decorate the school for us,” but she also addressed the tree in the Commons, saying that “it’s obvious that Christmas is the star here. It doesn’t really seem like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are being celebrated quite as much.” One senior thought that the decorations “were definitely not meant to be exclusive,” despite other students’ reactions.

Beyond Branson’s campus, there is even less representation of Winter’s eclectic collection of holidays. While we may appreciate the excitement and cheer that the Christmas trees, lights, and colors bring, I believe that we must also be wary of how we celebrate and how much we encourage others to do for their own festivities. So whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, or anything else, happy holidays!

A pair of Christmas wreaths outside of New Oaks.