Skip to main content

Cultural events and celebrations are a reflection of our community's rich diversity. At the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, we value all characteristics and identities that make our students, staff and faculty diverse and elevate our department. The DFPM cultural calendar is not static nor exhaustive. However, we hope to highlight events relevant to our community. Personal narratives in the DFPM weekly newsletter will accompany many of these cultural dates. We hope many will share their experience and perspective.

Want to know how to support colleagues celebrating these events? Check out our Cultural Celebrations Shortguides for information on how to respectfully acknowledge important cultural dates and celebrations.


  Poverty Awareness Month US
6 Epiphany Christian
17 Martin Luther King Jr Day (2022) US



History of Black History Month
By Menerva Yole-Lobe, MPAS, PA-C

"As a Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson, like W. E. B. Du Bois before him, believed that truth could not be denied, and that reason would prevail over prejudice. His hopes to raise awareness of African American's contributions to civilization was realized when he and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925. The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort.

By the time of Woodson's death in 1950, Negro History Week had become a central part of African American life and substantial progress had been made in bringing more Americans to appreciate the celebration. At mid–century, mayors of cities nationwide issued proclamations noting Negro History Week. The Black Awakening of the 1960s dramatically expanded the consciousness of African Americans about the importance of black history, and the Civil Rights movement focused Americans of all colors on the subject of the contributions of African Americans to our history and culture.

The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation's bicentennial. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” That year, fifty years after the first celebration, the association held the first Black History Month. By this time, the entire nation had come to recognize the importance of Black history in the drama of the American story. Since then each American president has issued Black History Month proclamations. And the association—now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)—continues to promote the study of Black history all year.

(Excerpt from an essay by Daryl Michael Scott, Howard University, for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History)

1 Lunar New Year China
20 World Day of Social Justice International


  Developmental Disabilities Month  
  Women's History Month  
17 St. Patrick’s Day International
21 International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination International


  Arab American Heritage Month  
  Autism Awareness Month  
2 Ramadan (Apr 2 - May 2, 2022)   Ramadan Celebration Shortguides Muslim
15 Passover (15th - 23rd, 2022)   Passover Shortguides Jewish
17 Easter (2022)   Ash Wednesday, Lent and Easter Shortguides Christian



Being raised in a Samoan household in Utah and temporarily living in Samoa, I experienced firsthand how protective and prideful Pacific Islanders are of our cultures and its traditions. I have witnessed the many benefits of prioritizing the multiple generations of the family and collaborating as a community to provide multifaceted care to those who are in need. I recognize that many Pacific Islanders prioritize sports and potential athletic scholarships over other aspects of their education, due to the large part of cultural stigmas generated from both within and outside our communities. While I understand why these were enticing than the idea of higher education, I believe it is also vital to recognize that at some point in every athlete’s life, competitive sports eventually come to an end and there is an entire life to live afterwards. I have found that many Pacific Islanders also do not receive care because of our lack of representation within the state. This is why becoming a part of the University of Utah Physician Assistant Program has been a priority of mine for so many years. Utilizing the opportunity to become a physician assistant, I hope to help patients directly by providing (and proactively promoting) healthy outcomes and treatments, and to inspire future Pacific Islander students to become medical professionals, thus increasing our representation throughout the state of Utah. I believe that by becoming a physician assistant in Utah I am not only prioritizing, the helping of my culture, but I am also doing a small part in demonstrating to other prospective students that there are other avenues by which we can progress and integrate our culture into western civilization while still paying homage to our tua’a (ancestors).

- Kawika Tupuola, 1st-Year UPAP Student

  Jewish American Heritage Month  
5 Cinco de Mayo Mexican American
30 Memorial Day US


  Caribbean American Heritage Month  

“Do you think we’ll be safe?” my husband asks me. We’re talking about our plans to march in Salt Lake City’s Pride Parade as University employees.

He’s asked me this question before, when we’ve marched in the past. As a transplant to Utah, it’s hard for him to see around Utah’s reputation for being a place where everyone has the same opinion—a bad one—about the LGBTQ+ community. I usually say we’ll be fine, that most Utahns are not at heart dangerous people, that there is a culture here of politeness and restraint that keeps disagreements civil, that the allies we have outnumber those that want to hurt us.

This year, however, is different. We’re having this conversation two days after the Uvalde shooting. The newspaper reports hate crimes against the LGBTQ community nearly doubled last year, spiking during Pride 2021. A senator who represents Utah in Congress is pushing a bill to put warning labels on TV shows with LGBTQ+ characters. Together, we’ve watched “don’t say gay” bills roll across the country, knowing from bitter experience that they will lead to increased suicide among vulnerable kids. We see the arguments in the leaked Supreme Court draft reversing Roe v. Wade and know with certainty that the same arguments will be used to try to annul our marriage. A formless dread has been hanging around both of us for weeks. We talk about putting adoption plans on hold, giving up on buying a house here in the state, moving to a place where our rights will feel more secure.

“I don’t know,” I say. “I hope so.”

I’m thinking about hope and fear this year as Pride approaches. It’s an odd confession, but I don’t usually like Pride. Growing up gay in Ogden in the ‘80s and ‘90s meant perfecting the art of hiding in plain sight, of never saying or doing anything to drop a hint that would let anyone catch on to the truth about me. Although I’m much safer these days, the impulse to hide myself, to pass, lingers and probably will for the rest of my life. Pride cuts against that impulse of mine: it’s showy, colorful, defiant. I wish I could say that joining the Pride parade overwrites my discomfort, that I suddenly feel part of a larger community, the way that it seems to work for so many others. That’s never happened, though. I always find myself at the margins of the celebration, watching the joy, making sure I’m aware of the exits should things suddenly turn sour.

At times, attending Pride can even feel like trespassing in an alien world. I see teenagers marching under the banner of their high schools and remember my own teenage years, recalling how when I was 18, the Salt Lake City School District banned every non-curricular club in the district to halt the creation of a gay/straight alliance club at East High. For the kids marching today, those moments are part of a murky, unpleasant past, barely comprehended. For me, they are unresolved wounds that still sting when I least expect them to, a burden on the way I think and the way I see the world. It’s heart-wrenching to fear that we are returning to where we once were as a culture, that these bright-faced hopeful teens might have to learn the exhausting art of concealment, might have to blunt their promise to avoid being harmed, that already they are receiving messages from the people in charge that they are less than their peers and that their existence is a problem to be solved.

The modern Pride is a moment of joy for LGBTQ people, but fear has always been part of my community’s existence. What we know today as Pride was born out of a moment of terror. The well-known riots that touched off on June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn were in response to a police raid. At the time, homosexuality was illegal in 49 states, and bars and restaurants could be shut down if they served or even employed someone from the LGBTQ community. Stonewall Inn was not unique for being raided--raids for bars serving LGBTQ patrons were common. What is unique about Stonewall is that, for whatever reason, fear was not the final response. The crowd outside the bar refused to dissipate, even when they were tear-gassed and beaten by police. They did not hide, even though there was every reason to. Their fear turned into anger and defiance. The people in that common bar on that uncommon night demonstrated their hope--hope that suffering an injustice in full view of the public’s eye would lead to a better future. They could not know that night that their actions would lead to streets across the nation thronging with cheering people waving rainbow flags, would save the lives of countless young people struggling with despair and loneliness, would build a better world. All they knew for sure was the danger in front of them, the certainty of abuse and ridicule. And they still stood up--proudly, defiantly, and with hope.

When I lived in Seattle as a graduate student, I often skipped the Pride celebration. It didn’t feel necessary, somehow, to fight the crowds in order to put in an appearance. I didn’t feel the same low-level pressure that I do in Utah, the same tightening of the chest each legislative session. I wasn’t afraid, and it made it easier to take the things I enjoyed for granted. Since I’ve returned to my home state, however, attending Pride feels more important. I want to remind myself of the benefits I enjoy because so many heroes before me--Utahns among them--rated their personal safety second to their hope. Because of them, I inhabit a world they could barely have conceived: I have a job where I can be open about my identity, people like me represented in every form of media, a legally recognized marriage to someone I love. That world has been built by those whose hope was stronger than their fear. So I’m joining the parade this year with the hope that those who come after me will have more than I did and will be given a world of even greater equality than we already enjoy. This Sunday’s Pride, I’ll walk with my husband and my colleagues from the U, and hope. Hope, yes, against the fear we won’t be safe--but hope more that the steps we’re taking continue to move us forward.

- Danny Nelson


Juneteenth commemorates the day when slaves in Texas were officially freed, June 19, 1865. The Emancipation Proclamation was enforced by Union Army officials soon after the Civil War. However, it took Union Army officials over 2 years to get to Texas, the most remote state of the union at that time. This day holds a special place in the hearts of many African Americans, because it symbolizes the humanization of our people, though systematic oppression has continued for many subsequent generations, i.e. sharecropping, Jim Crow, separate but equal, geographic red lining, racial profiling, etc.

As an adolescent, I remember recognizing Juneteenth by visiting the Allensworth Historic Park in the San Joaquin Valley near Los Angeles, California. Allensworth was a township founded by retired Colonel Allen Allensworth to give Black people the opportunity to live the “American Dream.” I remember visiting the replica of this old Western town and reliving the excitement many enslaved people felt when they learned of their freedom. But, I also remember the frustration of wondering why it took so long for many to realize the freedom granted by the Emancipation Proclamation. (“I’m sure slave owners new about it…” I lamented.) This mixture of pride and anger still resonates with me today, as another Juneteenth comes. However, this is a time to celebrate progression and the hope of better to come. As a nation, as a people, we are moving forward towards a brighter future.
- Jessica Jones, MD, MSPH
Associate Professor

If you’d like to celebrate, here are links to events at the U and in Salt Lake.
Juneteenth Day of Freedom Summit
Learning, Preserving & Telling the Stories of Juneteenth
Google Search Results

20 World Refugee Day International


4 Independence Day US

Pioneer Day Reflection

Ever since I was a child growing up in New York and Florida, I was always familiar with the Utah State Holiday of Pioneer Day. My affiliation with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ensured that every year I celebrated the event that happened on July 24, 1847, when the first group of what were then called “Mormons” (members of the above church) arrived in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. They were not the first people to come to this valley, nor were they invited. They were not even the first “white” settlers to come here. But they were the first colonizers to stay.

When the mostly white, Christian, “Mormon” pioneers arrived under the leadership of Brigham Young, they found a land that was used by and belonged to the Shoshone, Paiute, Goshute, and Ute tribes. I imagine that there were treaties, and land purchase agreements between the native nations of the Salt Lake Valley, and Brigham Young, but in the end, the people that were here on the first Pioneer Day were eventually resettled onto reservations across this state.

This is the part of the pioneer day story that is not told but needs to be remembered. During the fireworks, celebrations, and patriotic speeches from political and religious leaders next Monday, we can honor the indigenous peoples that continue to live on this land and celebrate them.
- José E. Rodríguez, MD, FAAFP



9 International Day of Indigenous People International

Women's Equality Day is an annual observance in the United States that takes place on August 26th. It commemorates and celebrates the ongoing efforts and achievements in the struggle for women's rights and gender equality. The day holds historical significance as it marks the certification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920, which granted women the right to vote.

I grew up in the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s, right in the heart of Madison, Wisconsin. It was a time characterized by an unrelenting wave of social and political upheaval, marked by fervent protests against the Vietnam War, bombings and impassioned sit-ins. Amidst this turmoil, the mid-70s emerged with a renewed energy for the burgeoning "women's lib" movement, and the echoes of change grew louder. I vividly recall the audacious "bra burners," who symbolized defiance against the confines of traditional gender roles by setting their bras ablaze in protest. Inspired by Gloria Steinem, I even adopted her iconic hairstyle, a choice that has persisted through the years. Yet, amidst this empowering awakening, a puzzling transformation unfolded. The term "feminism," once a rallying cry for equality, underwent a startling metamorphosis into a tarnished label. Questions about whether I was a "women's libber" arose, emblematic of a changing cultural landscape. Suddenly, before I could truly grasp the essence of the movement, feminism was maligned. Accusations of harboring anti-male sentiments or being "man haters" were directed at women like me, whose aspirations for equality were overshadowed by misconceptions.

My journey took me to Utah in the late 1980s, where disconcerting echoes of misogyny reverberated. Casual and uncomfortable jests targeting Hillary Clinton were alarmingly common, underscoring the persistence of gender biases and entrenched stereotypes. What is now rightfully deemed as unacceptable sexual harassment was distressingly rampant, forming an unsettling norm. I recall a sense of fortunate relief, believing I had largely evaded the grasp of anything overwhelmingly distressing. The dismissive refrain, "Come on, can't you take a joke?" became an all-too-familiar refrain, a callous attempt to downplay the impact of words and actions that perpetuated a culture of gender-based degradation.

My experiences through these decades embody the ongoing struggle to break free from the shackles of gender-based prejudices and to pave the way for a future where every individual's potential is liberated from the constraints of gender bias.

- Jennifer Myers Coombs, PA-C, MPAS, PhD




Reflections during Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month is a vibrant celebration of the rich tapestry of cultures that make up the Hispanic and Latino community in the United States. As a Colombian, this month holds a special place in my heart, as it provides an opportunity to reflect on the beautiful aspects of Colombian culture, the contributions of Colombians in the United States, and the enduring connections that tie us to our homeland.

Colombia, a country nestled in the heart of South America, is a land of breathtaking diversity. From the lush Amazon rainforests to the towering Andes mountains and the pristine beaches of the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, Colombia's natural beauty is unparalleled. Its cultural landscape is equally captivating, with a fusion of Indigenous, African, and Spanish influences that have shaped its music, dance, cuisine, and traditions.

During Hispanic Heritage Month, I find myself reminiscing about the spirited rhythms of cumbia and vallenato, the passionate moves of salsa and merengue, and the mouthwatering aromas of bandeja paisa and arepas. Colombian culture is a sensory explosion, and sharing it with others through food and dance is a way to bridge the gap between my American home and my Colombian roots.

Beyond the cultural delights, Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to honor the countless Colombians who have made significant contributions to the United States. From Colombian Nobel Prize winner, novelist, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “Gabo”, author of world renown novels such as “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “Love in the Time of Cholera”, actor, John Leguizamo, musicians like Shakira, J Balvin, and Juanes who have taken the world by storm, to artists like recently deceased, Fernando Botero whose distinctive style is recognized globally, Colombians have left an indelible mark on various fields. This month is a time to celebrate their achievements and to recognize the resilience and determination that characterize the Colombian spirit.

As a Colombian in the United States, Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to connect with others who share my heritage and those who are curious to learn about it. It's a time to break down stereotypes, dispel misconceptions, and foster cultural understanding. It's an opportunity to proudly wear my Colombian flag and share stories of my family's journey, which is a testament to the pursuit of the American dream.

In the end, Hispanic Heritage Month is not just about celebrating the past; it's about embracing the present and looking forward to the future. It's a reminder that our diversity is our strength, and the fusion of cultures, like the one found in Colombia, enriches the fabric of our nation. So, whether I'm dancing to the beat of cumbia or savoring the flavors of home-cooked empanadas, I'm reminded of the beauty of my Colombian heritage and the enduring bonds it creates in a world that is increasingly connected and multicultural.

-Tatiana Allen-Webb, BS, CCRP

5 Labor Day US
15 Rosh Hashanah (15th - 17th, 2023) Jewish


  Global Diversity Awareness Month US
  National Disability Awareness Month US

As a second generation American, I have always identified with the immigrant experience. About 7 million people immigrated from Germany over 150 years. My paternal grandparents were among them, arriving as children in the late 1800’s. Their families came for religious freedom and economic betterment. They settled in southeast Nebraska. My grandparents spoke German at home until the children started school, then they switched the family to English. Assimilation was expected. My aunts and uncles kept up a stream of German chatter around us cousins, tiny touchpoints of our heritage. These little phrases still circulate in my mind, and I wonder what some of them really meant. As usual, by the second generation the knowledge of our grandparents’ language was lost. Cultural features like holidays and customs disappeared into the homogenized white America of the 1960’s.

Growing up in the aftermath of WWII, I felt disconnected from my heritage. Images of Nazi Germany were reflected all around me, and that was all I could see of my grandparents’ country of origin. I felt no motivation to learn more. Best just to be an American teenager.

Chance events as an adult re-connected me with relatives in Germany. In 2016, my German cousin showed us around his country. On this amazing trip I fell in love with Germany. Medieval cathedrals tower over modern cities risen from the ashes of war. Phenomenal Berlin, with all the places I heard about as a child: Checkpoint Charlie, the American Sector, the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial. So many sausages! Train conductors who use a stopwatch to close the doors. The Autobahn, engineered for speed and safety. Intense and utter devotion to democracy, symbolized by the Reichstag, where the people physically look over the shoulders of their legislators. A society dedicated to fearless reckoning with its past and to facing its future. A place where planning is king, where everyone follows all the rules because that is best for all. A country where social safety nets prevent people from falling too low, while enjoying wealth, order and prosperity.

I have lost many illusions from my start as a white girl in Nebraska. I am still grateful for the strengths of my German heritage and those who gave them to me.

-Jennifer Leiser, MD


October 10th is a day that Indigenous people recognize as a day of pride and resilience. We live as descendants from our ancestors as we carry on their teachings and language. Indigenous people have been caretakers of their land for generations prior to being “discovered”. Our ancestral caretakers have a rich history of stories, songs, and ceremonies that make each tribal nation unique. This day is a painful reminder of the cultural protectors we lost to being “discovered” with the attempted genocide of Indigenous people for centuries to come. We acknowledge the dark history of colonization through the spoken and unspoken truth that are taught in history books.

Indigenous Peoples' day signifies the progression of a new generation of caretakers and protectors who will be the leaders of their generation. It’s a day to proudly display traditional attire and language to show the world that the goal of colonialism was unsuccessful. The path to healing is not easy and the recognition of Indigenous People’s Day is a step to elevate the voice of a people that was once silenced. Until equity is achieved for Indigenous people, the movement will continue to advocate for increased representation and responsibility. On October 11, take some time to learn about Indigenous people and how they have shaped the past, present, and future. Happy Indigenous People’s Day.

- Aaron Bia, MD (Diné)

10 World Mental Health Day International
31 - Nov 2

Reflecting on El Día de los Muertos
By Leslie Cepeda Echeverria, Academic Program Manager
Utah Physician Assistant Program

El Día de los Muertos is celebrated in all Latin American countries. Some are huge festivities as in Mexico with beautiful colors and altares or some celebrations are a bit more romantic and simpler as in Colombia. I wanted to share a little bit how El Día de Los Muertos is celebrated in Colombia, where I was born and raised. In Colombia and other Latin American countries, the Day of the Dead is celebrated for 1- 2 days. In Colombia is November 1 and 2. Growing up, I went with my family to visit my grandpa’s grave and brought him flowers on this day. We remembered him and shared stories, brought photos, and offered a pray. I have never met mi abuelito; however, I have a spiritual legacy from him that has shaped how interact with others through love and kindness. I personally did not grow up with altares y ofrendas; however, we do honor our ancestors that have passed on. So, when I came to the United States, I was able to learn and connect more with my Latine students and friends through El Dia de los Muertos.

In Colombia, the Day of All Saints (Día de Todos los Santos) is celebrated on November 1st and people give tribute to all people who are saints or unknown martyrs and who have left this mortal life. On November 2nd is called the Day of the Dead Saints (Día de los Santos Difuntos), and the purpose is to celebrate loved ones who have died and have not yet reach heaven. During these days, people attend cemeteries bringing flowers, candles, the deceased favorite items/relics, and ofrendas (offerings) to their loved ones and/or the known and unknown saints. These 2 days often are celebrated separated or joined depending on the region (Galindo, 2021).

Across Latin America, El Día de los Muertos is a fusion between Roman Catholic traditions and indigenous celebrations of honoring the dead (de Girón, 2010). Initially, the colonists tried to eradicate indigenous rituals and ceremonies (Galindo, 2021). Nevertheless, despite of the colonization, original people conserved their own celebrations; thus, you can see indigenous roots and resistance to the colonizers in a sense through these celebrations and symbolisms.

For example, the Arhuacos, a Colombian indigenous group, and many precolonial communities utilized the skulls of the death as honorable trophies. Similarly, we observe this in the Mexican culture in which the most prominent symbol of the El Día De Los Muertos is la calavera (the skull) (Galindo, 2021). Moreover, the Aztec, Maya, Inkan, Mixtec, and many other indigenous groups have had ceremonies to honor their ancestors. These ceremonies bring to remembrance that death is “part of the life cycle” and “still part of the world of the living” (de Girón, 2010, p. 29).

Migrating to the United States has helped me appreciate more El Día de los Muertos. This celebration has helped informed my own Latinidad. It has giving me a bit more sense of belonging. Specially, when I can interact and celebrate ancestors with my peers who are from different regions in Latin America.

These Days of the Dead are also part of an important period in the agricultural cycle. For instance, the days fall at the beginning of the rainy season and when indigenous groups can start cultivating potatoes and quinua (Albó et al. 1983; Harris 1983). Therefore, El Día de los Muertos is all about agriculture as well as how we interact with the Earth and other life forms (Van den Berg, 1989). The symbolism of the offerings it is a reciprocal relationship with the deaths so we all can grow and support nature (Branca, 2018).

I reflect on this agricultural symbolism of the Day of the Dead that I learned mostly in my anthropological classes. And I question how as humans are we interacting with the Earth? Perhaps we have forgotten how to appreciate, respect, and honor not only our ancestors, but also how we are interacting with Nature. Lastly, El Dia de los Muertos can be a joyful, colorful, and solemn event to celebrate life and death and appreciate Indigenous traditions to how interact with the world.



  American Indian / Native Alaskan Heritage Month US
  National Gratitude Month US

Veteran's Day holds a special place in my heart. First, I am grateful for the Veterans who came before me, especially my grandpa, dad, and uncles. I am also grateful for the soldiers I've served with, and family who supported me along the way.

This Veteran's Day marks the 15th anniversary of my National Guard unit returning to Utah after a year in Iraq. I was so excited to be home that I was bouncing up and down in my seat as I waited to get off the plane... then broke down in tears a few moments later as I thought of a few of my patients who did not get to return home.

I also take time on Veterans Day to remember that we all fight different battles. My brother, Marshall, joined the National Guard when he was 18 but soon developed health issues. This prevented him from deploying or remaining in the Guard and ultimately claimed his life.

My brother taught me many valuable lessons during his life. The most memorable was 16 years ago, as I prepared to deploy to Iraq. In a phone call home, I complained to Marshall that I felt like I was going to board a plane and fly into a big black hole. Marshall quipped, "I have it on rather good authority that the desert sands are more of a tan color". His joke reminded me to keep life in perspective and that while his battle was different, it was no less daunting.

In memory of my brother, I salute all of you for the battles you are fighting, both the apparent ones and those you fight privately, out of public view. In this regard, we are all veterans of our own conflicts and owe one another support and grace.

16 International Day of Tolerance International

A patient recently told me how much they were looking forward to our appointment. In fact, they said they were excited! For many of my patients, going to the doctor is a chore at best and a grave fear at worst. For this new transgender patient, however, our appointment to explore gender affirming hormones was the next step in a journey to look and feel the way they have always wanted.

I chose family medicine because it gives me an opportunity to build authentic and sustainable relationships with my patients. I am in my patients’ lives as a validating guide toward their best and healthiest self- I love that, for all my patients. Providing care for my trans patients is an opportunity to see and affirm their existence as their best self, and that is exciting!

For too long, there has been a paucity of healthcare providers who were able to provide gender affirming care. Many of our trans patients face a long list of obstacles in coming out and being validated in their identity. As a provider, supporting trans folks overcome even one of those obstacles is deeply meaningful to me. As a human, I see no other choice

-- Family Medicine adjunct assistant professor Noah Zucker, MD

24 Native American Heritage Day US


1 World AIDS Day International
3 International Day of Persons with Disabilities International
10 Human Rights Day International
7 - 15

When I was invited to write about Chanukkah, I was so verklempt I could just plotz. As a kid, it felt like a sort of hidden, bonus holiday: everyone got to eat candy canes and sing Christmas carols, but only the Chosen People could light candles in a fancy stand, gamble with chocolate coins, and celebrate with 8 nights of presents. Hanukkah has gained a lot of traction in the past 100 years since the immigration of millions of European Jews to America. But in reality it is accepted as only a minor holiday, marking a military victory of Jewish rebels against a larger Syrian army. Given that the holiday generally coincides seasonally with Christmas, it has always seemed to me like the Jewish "answer" to Christmas and winter holidays.

The Chanukka Choliday (pronounced with extra phlegm) is celebrated by numerous symbolic rituals, notably the duration of 8 nights (to mark the 8 nights it took for new, consecrated oil to arrive in the holy Temple to keep the Eternal Light aflame -- a light that persisted without apparently enough fuel). Foods are fried in oil, and young children are taught to play gambling games. It's customary to greet one another with a vigorous smack on the backside while loudly shouting "Hanukkah Hirschl sends his regards!" When I was younger I remember Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song" and watching the Rugrat's Hanukkah Special; more evidence that there's been an ever-increasing feeling of needing to "respond" to the Christmas season by making Hanukkah a bigger deal. In fact, it's just another Jewish holiday summarized by "they tried to kills us; we survived. Let's eat!"

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, for the sake of EDI, I thought I would spill the tea on what Hanukka is really about, and the odd, almost corporate importance imposed on it. But at the same time, I've never been one to look a gift jelly-donut in the mouth. That would take some real chutzpah.

- Jordan Knox, MD, CAQSM
Family Medicine Assistant Professor

25 Christmas International
26 - Jan 1 Kwanzaa US