How to Go From Eggshell Walking to Multicultural Festivity Making
Many people feel they walk on eggshells around the holidays, always trying to watch out for and not say the wrong thing to the wrong person, so they say nothing. This is one approach to the holidays, but it’s boring and does nothing to create an inclusive, caring culture in the workplace.
Think about the holidays as a time when many people celebrate a variety of things. It is a time when a lot of people get swept up into feeling good, helping others, reconnecting with old friends and family and working on self-improvement for the coming year. In working toward an environment where differences amongst people are recognized and respected, we are all bound to make mistakes. We need to be able to talk with others about our differences, assume good intentions, and if necessary correct people in a kind way. By sharing our differences at this time of year, it makes it easier to see our similarities and be comfortable asking questions.
Since so many holidays can be in November and December (Ramadan, Hanukah, Denali, Christmas, Las Posadas, Kwanza, New Year’s Eve and the Greek Orthodox Christmas) this is a good time to do research. Find out what these holidays mean, what the customary observances, food, greetings, and traditions are. Being able to give people the appropriate holiday greetings for their culture can help people feel included, build relationships and create more of a team spirit. Not only might you learn something new but you might be invited to share their celebration and eat a good meal.
I admit I love to eat, so almost any celebration that includes food sounds good to me.
As a Jewish person in a multicultural family and community, I love this time of year. I usually have my own Hanukkah party with people from different cultures and I feast with my friends at the close of Ramadan, walk in procession for Las Posadas, eat tamales on Christmas with friends from Mexico, attend Christmas concerts, eat potato latkes and sufganot (jelly donuts) on Hanukkah, discuss the principles of Kwanza, and dance, eat and sing wherever I get invited.