It is that time of year again – spring! A season full of new beginnings, warm weather, rainy days, flowers blooming, rising spirits, final exams… and holidays.
As you may know, though, Kingswood Oxford School is not a religiously affiliated institution; rather we are a secular, independent day school. So, what is it like celebrating a holiday in a non-religious climate?
Junior Amelia Boardman said that the secular environment actually did not have too much of an impact on how she celebrates. “Going to a school like KO has definitely helped me see how some of the traditions I have are unique and how other people celebrate,” she said. A Roman Catholic, Amelia said that is able to appreciate other religions and also can see the differences between how she celebrates holidays such as Easter from other Roman Catholics.
Amelia said that she and her family take Easter and Christmas very seriously, especially because they are Irish, and so they come together every year. “Easter is one of the few times in the year where my whole entire family gets together,” she said. “It’s a time to celebrate Jesus and what he did for us while also spending time together and having fun.” Some of her family’s traditions include going to Church, having a big sit-down dinner with the traditional ham, a lot of side dishes, and all different kinds of pies and pastries for dessert, opening up Easter baskets, and sitting around and sharing stories.
Senior Elise Gendrich, who is Jewish, also said that KO does not affect how she celebrates in any significant way. “The teachers are very understanding about me taking days off to go to synagogue on the most important holidays,” she said. The only thing that is tough, she said, is during Passover when she has strict diet regulations. “Passover is tough because I don’t think there’s enough demand for the special food, so the dining hall is unable to give me many options for lunch.”
Passover celebrates the freedom and new beginnings Jews found in Israel after escaping slavery in Egypt, during which time they could not make or eat bread because they did not have the means to do so. Thus, Elise said that on top of the Kosher diet she has all year, she is also not allowed to eat leavened bread or cereal and cannot have meat and dairy in the same meal (for example, a cheeseburger).
There are also members on campus who choose not to celebrate any religious holidays at all or use them as a chance to spend family instead of focusing in on the religious aspect.
Junior Jaden Dimauro said he is an atheist but loves spending time with his family on Christmas. “My whole family celebrates Christmas but not religiously. For us, Christmas is a family thing that we use as a means to see each other,” he said. “We still give out presents, but for us it’s more about appreciating the time we have together.”