Merry Christmas? What about Happy Hanukkah?


As Christmas season approaches, the festive mood bursts upon the UNIS community like a huge Santa’s sleigh. Everyone rushes to bring the entire school into the mood with Christmas carols ringing through the loudspeakers (deafening your ears), the classical candy cane sale, the HS Senate members wrapping themselves with Christmas tinsels (like literally), fervently advertising socks, and the Christmas trees ubiquitous in many parts of the school campus (including art center, canteen, library, B7, and even in some of the classrooms). But ’tis the season, very rarely do we ever hear anyone talking about some of the other holidays that take place in this same time of the year. One of the only hint we get of this other holiday is the Hanukkah menorah, which is displayed at the entrance of the library; however, most people don’t notice it or they simply are not aware of what the menorah is or is for…


As UNIS is an international school where diversity and intercultural awareness are highly valued (even intimately intrinsically encompassed in the IB program as a fundamental concept), it is important for us as UNIS students to be aware of other cultures and celebrate it together as a community. Sure, Christmas is definitely a beautiful holiday that can be meaningful and special for many people, but it is not as significant for others. There are other holidays over this time of the year that deserves to be heard, promoted, and celebrated together in order to ensure that these others do not feel left out from our community.


Other special winter holidays includes Hanukkah (Jewish festival of light and dedication), Kwanzaa (holiday that celebrates African culture and heritage), and Saint Lucia’s day (Scandinavian festival of light commemorating Saint Lucia), etc.


It is definitely important to incorporate these holidays into our UNIS life as UNIS is made of students from various faith, religion, culture, nation, and ethnic background, and every culture of all colors deserve to be heard and celebrated altogether in our school. With 66 nations represented in the campus and 44 languages spoken at school, it is undeniable that UNIS Hanoi is a diverse community. It is also crucially important because certain people may feel “left-out” or isolated from the rest of the community if the rest of the community celebrates other traditions and are completely ignorant of their culture. However, this can all be prevented. We can bring change to our community by raising awareness of these holidays, incorporating other traditions into our holiday festivity, blasting Hanukkah songs, teaching students about Kwanzaa, and many more methods. We definitely look forward to seeing more diversity and celebration of culture in our UNIS campus in coming years!


Happy Holidays, everyone!