Holidays at Greene Street Friends
Here at Greene Street Friends, we celebrate the diversity of our community- including the different ways our students, families, faculty, staff, and others observe the holiday season. Being educators, we are always looking for ways to educate ourselves and our students about one another’s different cultural and religious traditions.
Throughout the month of December (and actually beginning with Diwali back in October), classrooms have welcomed guest teachers to learn more about one another’s traditions. Business Manager Terri Hamer visited students to discuss Kwanzaa, a week-long celebration honoring African heritage and African American culture. There are seven days, with corresponding principles, observed: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith). Each day is represented by a different candle in the Kinara. Terri went over each day and asked students what each principle meant to them. First Graders discussed how they can be creative (coloring pictures, building castles, making cards), what they believe in (unicorns, mermaids, Pokémon, and dragons), and how to help our neighbors during the holiday season. Students also learned more about cooperative economics and why shopping at local businesses owned by women or a person of color is important to uphold the principle. Students finished their time with Terri by coloring worksheets- creativity already at work!
Director of Development Maani Waldor talked to 1L about
Hanukkah, an eight day celebration in the Jewish tradition. Hanukkah
commemorates the Maccabean brothers regaining control of Jerusalem and
rededicating the Temple (the central place of worship for the Jewish community).
The miracle of Hanukkah lies in a tiny amount of oil lasting for eight days and
nights, enough to make more oil for use in the Temple. Maani talked about how
each family celebrates Hanukkah differently, sometimes giving gifts to one
another or donating to charities. Students played dreidl, a popular game involving a spinning top and the trading of
chocolate coins, and read The Golem’s
Latkes together. Across the hall in Kindergarten, Steve handmade enough latkes for both Kindergarten classes to
enjoy together. Jewish families eat latkes and other, fried foods (like
donuts!) during Hanukkah because they are prepared in oil.
Greene Street Friends parent Lisa Volta offered the class an opportunity to expand its understanding of the Christian holiday of Christmas. The class saw international images of people celebrating Christmas, made a traditional craft, and learned a traditional dance.
During Lower and Middle School assemblies, students explored the Quaker belief in each person having the Light of God within them and the responsibility all of us have to let that light shine out into the world. Counselor Amira Sedki discussed holding others in the Light, a phrase commonly used in Quaker communities to denote thinking of someone during a challenging time. Lower School students were invited onstage to share ways they could let their light shine. Students said they could be kind to others, humble themselves for others’ lights to shines, and serve one another. Students will gather for the annual Peace Assembly the last day before Winter Break, where each class will hold a sign with the word “peace” written in a different language.
All of our students enjoyed learning about one another’s holiday traditions and we look forward to celebrating this season in each of our own, special ways. We hope that peace and light fill your holiday season.