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.
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) Project 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, email@example.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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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:
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?”
“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.”
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
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.
Today, we celebrate Juneteenth. Juneteenth is a festival held annually on June 19th to commemorate emancipation from slavery in Texas.
Why Texas, you may ask? Throughout the Civil War, Texas was not as closely monitored as other battle states. For this reason, many slave owners went to Texas in order to keep those they’d enslaved as long as possible. After the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect (Jan. 1, 1863), people enslaved in war-torn states often escaped behind Union lines or fought on its behalf, ultimately winning the war (April 9, 1865). However, approximately 250,000 enslaved people in Texas had no idea that their freedom had been secured.
On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger led thousands of federal troops to Galveston, Texas to announce that the Civil War had ended over two months earlier, and everyone had been freed. In the 1870s, a group of those recently freed pooled $800 together through local churches to purchase ten acres of land and create Emancipation Park to host future Juneteenth celebrations in modern-day Houston. In 1980 “Emancipation Day in Texas” became a legal state holiday in recognition of Juneteenth. State offices, however, do not completely close, as it is considered a "partial staffing holiday." Elsewhere, the holiday is also referred to as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day. Many continue to celebrate Juneteenth. Throughout the nation people host cookouts, parades, and other gatherings to commemorate.
In 2019, Opal Lee of Fort Worth, TX began walking across the nation at the age of 92 to bring awareness to her campaign for Juneteenth to be a National Day of Observance. "Now, 46 states have it as a state holiday and there's no reason for it not to be a national holiday," she said. Opal kicked off her movement in Detroit in July 2019, specifically to gain the attention of the 20 presidential candidates in town for the CNN Democratic national debate. She, her family and friends, as well as Detroiters, walked from Hart Plaza along the Riverwalk through downtown to the historic Second Baptist Church (she walked to Washington DC as well). There is currently a proposal in the United States Senate to declare Juneteenth a widely observed holiday. For more information on Opal Lee's journey, check out opalswalk2dc.com
Get more background on Juneteenth and the history leading up the annual celebration from The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History & Culture.
Madelyn Porter and Tony Lucas performed at Ferndale Upper and Lower in celebration of Black History Month. Thank you for the wonderful lessons and experiences. A brief video is available on our Facebook page.