Kissing Valentine’s Day goodbye

On January 29th, the StarTribune reported that Scott Masini, principle of Bruce Vento Elementary School, decided that the school would no longer celebrate “dominant holidays”. Of these holidays are Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day.Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 10.47.06 AM

In late January, principle Scott Masini sent a letter to the students’ parents saying that the school would no longer be celebrating dominant holidays. “I have come to the difficult decision”, Mansini stated in the letter, “to discontinue the celebration of dominant holidays until we can come to a better understanding of how the dominant view will suppress someone else’s view”. Mansini’s student body is largely non white, filling the school with a majority minority population. Mansini explained in the letter that he wants to “honor and engage in holidays that are inclusive of the student population”. These dominant holidays will now be just another day at Bruce Vento Elementary School.

Most of the holidays listed make sense to most people. Halloween could be seen as satanic to some religions, Thanksgiving suppresses Native Americans, and Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.

But Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day, although often portrayed as a day of love and commercialism, has Christian roots. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia there were at least three Saints by the name of Valentine, all of whom were martyred on February the 14th. The most well known of the three was Saint Valentine of Rome. Saint Valentine of Rome was a priest who lived during the ruling of Roman Emperor Claudius II. During his ruling Valentine reeling against the rules of the emperor helped arrange marriage for soldiers. Valentine also healed sick children and through his journey converted people to Catholicism. When Claudius found out he was outraged and Valentine was sent to death.  While Valentine was awaiting his death in prison, Valentine received cards and letters from many Roman children. Knowing the common roots of Valentine’s Day, it’s plain to see how the story of the Christian Saint Valentine could suppress other religions if the day were celebrated.

Although Scott Mansini is trying to enhance the celebration of holidays for minorities that fill his school, what about the children in his school who do celebrate dominant holidays?

It’s very likely for a student to be a minority and celebrate at least one of the canceled holidays.

So, what if Saint Paul Public elementary schools didn’t necessarily celebrate all holidays, including dominant ones, but rather educated the students on the holidays? This way the beliefs of every culture are outwardly acknowledged, but not celebrated in a way that would suppress other cultural groups. Students could learn the history of everything from Hmong New Year to Cinco de Mayo to Chanukah to Ramadan to Valentine’s Days. By acknowledging all holidays, all students are honored. Educating students on all cultural celebrations from a young age would build cultural respect and understanding, which you can never have too much of.

Bruce Vento Elementary School should at least recognize and honor the fact that Valentine’s Day, along with all other holidays, are very likely celebrated holidays among their student body.

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