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Cultural Education

Culture is an important aspect of our families and neighborhoods, and we value the diversity of cultural backgrounds and traditions that make our community so unique.

About the TAHO Initiative

The Cultural Education Workgroup of the Ferndale Schools Diversity Committee is pleased to introduce something new this year for our school family!  The Traditions And Holiday Observances (TAHO) Initiative is an interactive calendar and story-telling project that aims to provide information, cultural education, and connection for school families about cultural differences.

Our hope is that this provides all school families with a greater understanding about the many cultural traditions practiced by families in our community, resulting in greater appreciation for the differences among our students and their families – improving relationships, social connection, school planning, and more.

This page will include information about upcoming holidays and their cultural significance to families in our school community. Here, we will include upcoming significant dates with information about how these dates are observed by families in and around our community.

How is it interactive?

By using the TAHO Form below, we invite ALL families in the district to share your significant cultural holidays, stories about how you observe/celebrate your special days and why the day is culturally significant to you and your family. 

What if I don’t see my significant events reflected or the descriptions don’t reflect my family’s experience of that holiday or tradition?

The Cultural Education Workgroup will be on the lookout for important dates and will work to provide some baseline information about significant dates to the community.  We will do this on the webpage and through notices sent via the school newsletter. But we also know that we will miss things – we will miss some important dates and we will miss the variety of ways in which families celebrate and observe culturally significant events.  No cultural group practices everything in exactly the same way – there are nuances within each and that’s why we need your help:

  • What dates are missing that should be added?  

  • What stories would you like to share?  

  • How can we continually improve this so it grows in inclusivity every year?

How can you get involved?

  • Share your cultural dates and stories!  Use the TAHO Form below to share an upcoming date and why it’s important to you and your family.

  • Join our Cultural Education Workgroup! We would love to have more people participate in this project.  Contact Workgroup Chair Kat LaTosch for more information, klatosch@gmail.com

Traditions and Holiday Observations Form

Below is the form you can use to help submit information about significant dates and events for your family. 


Our Team

The Cultural Education Workgroup volunteers include:

  • Dania Bazzi
  • Jodi Berger
  • Sarah Elturk
  • Kat LaTosch
  • Julie Osburn
  • Madiha Tariq
  • Prasad Venugopal

The Workgroup meets approximately once per month.


Cultural Events

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Nirvana Day — February 15th, 2021

Presented by the Traditions And Holiday Observances(TAHO) Initiative. Learn more about the TAHO Initiative.

Nirvana Day or Parinirvana Day is an annual Buddhist festival that remembers the death of the Buddha when he reached Nirvana at the age of 80. Nirvana is believed to be the end of the cycle of death and rebirth. Buddhism teaches that Nirvana is reached when all want and suffering is gone. Nirvana is often described as a state of bliss or peace, which may be experienced in life, or it may be entered into at death.

Nirvana Day is considered a traditional day for pilgrimage, especially to the city named Kushinagar, located in the modern-day state of Uttar Pradesh in India where Buddha took his last breath. Nirvana Day observances tend to be solemn. This is a day for meditation or reading the Parinibanna Sutta and a time to reflect on death and impermanence. Buddhists around the world celebrate Nirvana Day by meditating or by going to Buddhist temples or monasteries.

On this day, some monasteries and temples hold meditation retreats. Others open their doors to the community at large, who bring gifts of money and household goods to support monks and nuns. Buddhists believe meditation is very important for well-being. It is a way to clear the mind and encourage positive thinking. To meditate you need to find a quiet area where you can concentrate and focus on breathing deeply.

February 8, 2021
Presidents Day — February 15th, 2021

Presented by the Traditions And Holiday Observances(TAHO) Initiative. Learn more about the TAHO Initiative.

Formerly called Washington’s Birthday, this day was first celebrated and commemorated in 1799 following the death of President George Washington.  The day was re-established in 1885, as a day to commemorate the birthdays of both Presidents George Washington (February 22) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and meant to honor the birthdays and lives of all U.S. presidents. As of 1971, President’s Day occurs on the 3rd Monday of every February, as part of the 1971 Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers.

This holiday is a time for contemplation and celebration of the incredible strides that this country has made under the leadership of its presidents in the last 231 years.  In its modern form, Presidents' Day is used by many patriotic and historical groups as a date for staging celebrations, reenactments and other events. Some ways that people celebrate President's Day include visiting historic sites to learn about great leaders who helped shape the United States or cooking recipes from past presidents such as George Washington’s She-Crab Soup, John Kennedy’s White House Fettuccine, or Thomas Jefferson’s Chicken Fricassee. More Recipes can be found here. Some immigrants and new Americans choose this day to obtain their citizenship.

Here is a helpful guide to help kids to celebrate President's Day.

National Freedom Day – February 1st, 2021

Presented by the Traditions And Holiday Observances(TAHO) Initiative. Learn more about the TAHO Initiative.

This day commemorates the day that President Abraham Lincoln signed a joint congressional resolution proposing a 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution which officially outlawed slavery.

According to 36 U.S. Code § 124, the sitting President can decide for themselves if they’re going to proclaim the holiday for that year. On this day, some people take time out of their busy schedules to honor freedom and equality. The day may also be celebrated with breakfasts or BBQs, movie screenings, book readings, and luncheons. In some areas, celebrations are observed with a fireworks display.

National Freedom Day is not only a commemoration of the historic 13th Amendment but also a day when all Americans can celebrate the freedom they share with their fellow Americans.

Bodhi Day

Presented by the Traditions And Holiday Observances(TAHO) Initiative. Learn more about the TAHO Initiative.

Bodhi Day is the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni), experienced enlightenment, also known as bodhi in Sanskrit and Pali. According to tradition, Siddhartha had recently forsaken years of extreme ascetic practices and resolved to sit under a peepal tree, also known as a Bodhi tree, and simply meditate until he found the root of suffering, and how to liberate oneself from it.   Bodhi Day is observed in many mainstream Mahayana traditions including the traditional Zen and Pureland Buddhist schools of China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.

Services and traditions vary amongst Buddhist sects, but all such services commemorate the Buddha's achievement of Nirvana, and what this means for Buddhism today. Individuals may choose to commemorate the event through additional meditation, study of the Dharma, chanting of Buddhist texts (sutras), or performing kind acts towards other beings. Some Buddhists celebrate with a traditional meal of tea, cake, and readings.

While there is no traditional greeting on Bodhi Day, many people do wish each other a "Blessed Bodhi Day" or a "Happy Bodhi Day." 

World Braille Day: January 4th

Presented by the Traditions And Holiday Observances(TAHO) Initiative. Learn more about the TAHO Initiative.

World Braille Day is a celebration of Louis Braille and a reminder of the importance of independence for people who are blind or visually impaired. World Braille Day is celebrated every year on January 4th because it’s Louis Braille’s birthday, the inventor of braille. Louis was born in 1809 in France and became blind after a childhood accident. When Louis was only 15 years old, he created a reading and writing system based on Charles Barbier’s night writing system. We know Louis’ system today as braille.  

Today’s reality is that many establishments such as restaurants, banks, and hospitals don’t offer braille versions of their print materials like menus, statements, and bills. Because of this, people with blindness or visual impairments often don’t have the freedom to choose a meal on their own or keep their finances private. This day is intended to spread awareness about braille and other accessible forms of communication. 

All people can celebrate this day and raise awareness by offering documents in accessible formats like braille.


Presented by the Traditions And Holiday Observances(TAHO) Initiative. Learn more about the TAHO Initiative.

Kwanzaa, which means "First Fruits," is based on ancient African harvest festivals and celebrates ideals such as family life and unity. Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Africana Studies at California State University, created and first celebrated Kwanzaa in 1966. He established this holiday in response to the Watts Riots of 1965. The Watts Riots (also called “Watts Rebellion” or “Watts Uprising”) were in response to police maltreatment and racial/economic discrimination in Watts and the surrounding areas of Los Angeles.  Kwanzaa was created as a means to bring Black/African-American communities together to celebrate Black/African-American racial/ethnic identity and culture.

Kwanzaa celebration begins on December 26th and lasts for seven days until January 1st of the New Year. Each day of Kwanzaa celebrates a different facet of the Nguzo Saba, or the seven principles.

The seven principles of Kwanzaa are:

1.    Unity (Umoja)

2.    Self-determination (Kujichaguilia)

3.    Collective Work and Responsibility (Ujima)

4.    Cooperative Economics (Ujamaa)

5.    Purpose (Nia)

6.    Creativity (Kuumba)

7.    Faith (Imani). 

Human Right Day: December 10th

Human Rights Day was created by the United Nations, promotes awareness of the importance of Human Rights issues around the world. On this date in 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Each year the UN establishes a new theme for the year. 

“Human rights is something we easily take for granted in the US. Elsewhere, freedom and basic human rights are not given.”

Participate in Human Rights Day by learning more about human rights issues around the globe. Offer your time and money in support of a human rights issue that is important to you, your family, your community.

November 20, 2020
Celebrating Native American Heritage

November continues to be Native American Heritage Month. As we mentioned several weeks ago, this month was established to honor and recognize Native Americans as the first people of this nation and to celebrate both their cultural heritage and integral importance to our past, our present, and our future.

You can participate in Native American Heritage Month all of November by learning about and appreciating the historical and contemporary significance of Indigenous peoples in your community and around the world. Resources are available at NativeAmericanHeritageMonth.gov, and we encourage you to seek out Native American voices on the web to learn their stories in their own words.

The MSU Native American Studies Research Guide: Michigan's American Indian Heritage has collected weblinks for the 12 currently federally-recognized Native American tribes in Michigan, 5 unrecognized tribes in Michigan, and many more resources to start your learning journey."

Click the button below:

MSU Native American Studies Research Guide: Michigan's American Indian Heritage

Native American Heritage Day: November 27th

In 2009, President Barack Obama signed “The Native American Heritage Day Resolution,” designating the Friday after Thanksgiving as “Native American Heritage Day.” After signing H.J. Res 40 into law he stated, “I encourage every American to join me in observing Native American Heritage Day....It is also important for all of us to understand the rich culture, tradition, and history of Native Americans and their status today, and to appreciate the contributions that First Americans have made and will continue to make to our Nation.” 

The bill, however, was only formally supported by 184 out of 567 federally recognized tribes. Brian Perry, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and a Native Hope ambassador, shares his poignant thoughts about the highly commercial day that was chosen as the national day to honor the Native American heritage and people of our country. He states:

"As a Native American, I feel slighted. The day after Thanksgiving? Almost an afterthought. With November being Native American Heritage Month, there are 28 other days to select from with of course Thanksgiving having its long established day to itself. Why must we take a backseat to Thanksgiving? Why not the day before Thanksgiving?”

Brian continues:

The day after Thanksgiving is one of the most irrelevant days of the year. Most people are off work, families travel, and there is very little in the news cycle. What is the day after Thanksgiving known as in America? Black Friday—not Native American Heritage Day. It is a day when the American consumer plots out the best bargains at the best retailers at the best times to contribute to the American GDP. Not a word or mention in the mainstream media about Native American Heritage Day, just videos of adults fist fighting at 4:00 in the morning in stores over the last trendy toy in stock for this year's Season of Giving. Are we Native Americans the Forgotten America? Voices Unheard. When a national civil holiday occurs that hardly anyone knows about...I begin to wonder.”

November 2, 2020
Transgender Day of Remembrance: November 20th

Transgender Day of Remembrance, established in 1998 to memorialize those who have been killed as a result of transphobia and to raise awareness of the continued violence endured by the transgender community.

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) was started in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence since Rita Hester's death, and began an important tradition that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

You can Participate in Transgender Day of Remembrance by attending and/or organizing a vigil on November 20 to honor all those transgender people whose lives were lost to anti-transgender violence that year, and learning about the violence affecting the transgender community. Vigils are typically hosted by local transgender advocates or LGBTQ organizations, and held at community centers, parks, places of worship, and other venues. The vigil often involves reading a list of the names of those lost that year.

For a list of Michigan events honoring this day, visit transgendermichigan.org/remembrance

Dussehra (also known as Vijayadasami)—October 25, 2020

This cultural education segment is presented by TAHO, an service of the Ferndale Schools Diversity Committee.

Cultural Tradition:


Why is this date important to the culture?

Traditionally, the festival of Dussehra (also known as Vijayadasami in many parts of India) is a festival that celebrates the the triumph of good over evil in traditional Hindu religion through mythological stories such as King Rama’s victory over Ravana (the demon king) or the Goddess Durga's victory over the demon Mahishasura. Among many Dalit and tribal communities across India, the festival is marked as part of the struggle against persistent caste discrimination in Indian society.

How do members recognize/observe this date? Include common cultural practices.

Dussehra is celebrated on the tenth day following a nine-day religious period called Navaratri that is celebrated in Autumn of each year. The actual days of religious observance are based on the Hindu lunar calendar. Dussehra is observed as a public holiday all over India.

Many people observe Dussehra through special prayer meetings and food offerings at home or in temples throughout India. Common events include performances of the Ramlila (the short version of the Hindu epic Ramayana, the story of Rama's life), religious processions, blessing of household and work related tools, and preparation of special foods to mark festival celebrations.

Many who celebrate Dussehra believe that it is lucky to start a new venture, project, or journey on Dussehra.

How can non-members sensitively and appropriately acknowledge the date?

Participate in gift giving and prayers for peace and justice.