We are fortunate to live in a country that honors religious freedom, especially in culturally diverse South Jersey, where our neighbors are Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and more, where we can enjoy the beauty of historic church buildings, soaring synagogues and ornate temples.
During this “season of giving,” let’s go a bit further with the sentiment and make sure this is a season of giving – and accepting – of ideas, too.
As you celebrate your holiday, share your traditions with others. Take the opportunity to learn what and how your neighbors mark this time of year. Recognize the beauty in our country’s religious diversity, but also that in so many ways, our celebrations share common threads.
For instance, last month those of the Hindu faith celebrated Diwali, a festival of lights, with observers using small lamps and candles throughout their celebrations. The festival symbolizes light over darkness – a simple yet universal theme that unquestionably goes beyond Hinduism.
Light overcomes darkness with the Hanukkah menorah. The Winter Solstice yule candle brings light to the longest night of the year. We light candles on Kwanzaa kinaras. We sing holiday hymns in the glow of candlelight at Christmas Eve church services.
During our winter holidays, we are all bringing light to the darkness, and it’s this common factor that reminds us we are closer than politics, sports and other potentially divisive topics may sometimes lead us to believe.
No matter what you celebrate, we wish you a happy holiday filled with good tidings, and a peaceful, prosperous New Year.