Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas, and More, at the Library!

T'is the season to deck the stacks with evergreen boughs and Christmas ornaments. As December 25 approaches, libraries across Canada have created holiday displays, read “Frosty the Snowman,” and held fundraisers in honor of the upcoming, Christian holiday. However, December is a month of many festivals and Christmas is celebrated in a number of ways by different cultures.

Besides Christmas, both Hanukkah and Kwanzaa occur in December. This year Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is celebrated from sundown on December 20 to sundown on December 28. Kwanzaa, a week-long celebration of African-American culture, occurs each year from December 26 to January 1. Because the Muslim calendar moves around, some observances of this faith occasionally show up in December too. In the spirit of inclusion and education, consider adding a few materials on these holidays to your displays, picking some new titles for storytime, or trying some related children’s crafts.

Along with recognizing other holidays, the library can be a great place to showcase a diverse range of Christmas traditions. Although Southern Alberta is mostly dominated by Canadians of European descent (German, Dutch, Hungarian, Polish, Ukranian, Italian to name a few), there exist significant populations of Japanese, Chinese, Latin American, and West Asian descendants and immigrants. If you library has a good relationship with a local cultural centre or a representative of a cultural group, consider inviting them into the library or partnering with the on a yuletide program or event.

To learn more about multi-cultural programming, check out the slew of information Library and Archives Canada offers on Multicultural Resources and Services. In closing, I would like to say that every community is unique and these suggestions may or may not apply to yours. Yet, it is worth it to recognize that the library is a place for everyone at all times of the year!

I wish you peace, joy, and love in the holiday season.

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