By Sasha Kats, Ambassador of the Co Lab’s Mental Health Hub

Every school celebrates different holidays. Some of the more common ones, such as Christmas, Easter, New Years, Thanksgiving, and Labor day, are celebrated in all schools. But, do you notice a trend here? THERE IS NO DIVERSITY!! Where are holidays such as Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, Kwanzaa, Yom Kippur, and Rosh Hashanah?  For Jewish kids in school, a holiday like Yom Kippur is very hard. Yom Kippur is supposed to be a day of reflection, where you don’t eat from sundown one day to sundown the next night. It is very hard for students to abide by this because, well if you are in school all day, not eating or drinking is hard, not to mention that you can’t perform the main purpose of the holiday if you are focused on school the whole day.

Many schools don’t even celebrate holidays such as Columbus day or Veteran’s Day. While not celebrating or not giving days off for these holidays is a problem in itself, schools also don’t teach kids what these holidays are. Without educating students on different holidays there is not much hope that schools will give days off on these holidays.

Part of the reason there aren’t days off is because schools cater to the majority. For the majority of students, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter are the main holidays that they celebrate, which is why many schools don’t have days off for other holidays. All of this can cause distress and mental health issues, such as feeling like you don’t matter or the things you care about don’t matter, or feeling excluded and feeling like you’re in the wrong for following a certain religion or participating in its holidays. It can cause a lot of stress for students around the holiday season especially if they take a day off of school for a holiday. Taking days off of school so close to midterms can cause a lot of anxiety and stress with all of the makeup work and feeling behind.

My hope is that in the future there will be more awareness for some of these holidays in schools across the country, and for kids to feel comfortable celebrating their religion.  Join our teen-led mental health hub at the Co Lab to express your views!