As 2018 comes to a close and winter break draws near, many in the Vanderbilt community will begin celebrating numerous cultural, religious and secular holidays observed across the globe during this time of the year. The holidays provide an opportunity to honor and celebrate the rich and diverse tapestry of beliefs, cultures and traditions held by members of the Vanderbilt community and promote the values of generosity, community, inclusion and unity evident throughout.
“The holiday season marks a period of great celebration, deep reflection and convivial fellowship. At Vanderbilt, we recognize a broad and diverse array of holidays rooted in all backgrounds, beliefs and traditions,” Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos said. “Growing up in a Greek family and Greek-American community, I enjoy sharing the traditions of our heritage around holidays such as Christmas and Greek Orthodox Easter. It has inspired me to learn about traditions different than my own. I hope the Vanderbilt community takes the time to learn about the many ways holidays are celebrated, support those facing challenges during this time, and reflect on our shared values of equity, diversity and inclusion. These values bind us together and make us stronger as a Vanderbilt community.”
Kwanzaa, Christmas, Hanukkah, Makar Sankranti, the Dongzhi Festival and New Year’s are among the holidays that occur between late November and early January, with many overlapping with the university’s winter break between fall and spring semester. As students, faculty and staff celebrate these holidays and leave the campus for the break, the university has a number of educational and support resources available to the community.
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is developing toolkits that provide an overview of historical and current practices associated with various holidays, offer guidance on how to support fellow students and colleagues during this time, and provide a list of resources related to mental health and wellbeing available to the Vanderbilt community. These toolkits recognizing cultural and religious observances will be made available throughout December, with several more to come, including toolkits on cultural heritage observances.
“The winter season provides the opportunity for us to come together to celebrate important aspects of our culture and heritage. We also recognize that the winter season can be a period of great anxiety, stress or loneliness for many in our community, including those who stay on campus during this time for a variety of reasons and those who have lost loved ones,” said James Page Jr., vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer. “As a community at Vanderbilt, it is important that you feel supported during this time of year.”
A number of resources are available for Vanderbilt community members throughout the year, and they will continue to provide support during the holiday season. Some of these resources include: the Office of Student Care Coordination, the Employee Assistance Program, the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life, International Student and Scholar Services, the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Life and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
To learn more about the many religious holidays and observances celebrated throughout the year, visit OUCRL’s website.