People of UNF: Springing in the Interfaith Holidays

Jenn Mello

Springtime, the season that gets the bees buzzing and the flowers blooming. But springtime is also the season of festivals and celebrations, particularly in the interfaith community. This week for People of UNF, we’re sharing stories from students on what their springtime holidays mean to them.

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Triana Arguedas is a Saphardic Jew and a senior studying biology. Photo by Jennifer Mell)

“My favorite holiday is Purim, which is another springtime holiday, and it celebrates the story of Jews overcoming hatred and antisemitism. It’s more of a fun holiday. That’s when you go to temple. You dress up in silly masks and costumes. You eat hamantash. You make noise. That is a more joyful holiday for me because temples go all out for that. It’s basically like Jewish Halloween. And I think it’s more reflective with how I want to live my life, joyfully through what I believe in.”

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Rachel McNeal, coordinator for the Interfaith Center, is a Evangelical Christian and Easter is one of her favor holidays. Photo by Jennifer Mello

“I can never decide whether Easter is more fun or Palm Sunday. I like the [Holy Week]. It’s my favorite time in the church calendar. Palm Sunday gets to be this celebratory thing and we have palms that we wave in the air and it’s always really fun to watch the kids dancing with branches to the music. For me, it’s fitting that it comes during the spring because it feels like a celebration of that time in the air. Not only are we celebrating this great story in the Bible, we’re celebrating the longer days and the light triumphing over darkness during the springtime. I often feel like our mortality makes the world seem bleak. Something about this faith makes the world feel a little more hopeful. [Easter] finds the means for me to bring positivity  into the world and to act on that hope to be a little more optimistic.”

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Clare Stern, a Humanist theist, is a senior studying public health. Photo by Jennifer Mello

“I came from a secular household. My dad is atheist and my mother was agnostic prior to becoming a Christian-Episcopalian later on. Around the time that I was 10 years old, I was asking [them] ‘Why don’t we go to church?’ My parents have been very big believers in experiential learning so they took the values of them being secular and found a church that would meet that, an Episcopal church. Right now, we’re in the midst of Holy Week. [It] acknowledges the end of Lent and the beginning of Easter. During this time each year, I typically fast or add on some kind of activity for 40 days and then on Easter, I break it. I celebrate life and the Resurrection. My favorite part of Holy Week is Maundy Thursday. It’s the foot washing, where Jesus actually washed his disciples feet. Just showing this beautiful act of humanity. Even though he was the Messiah, he acted as a human and put others before him. That to me is still something I celebrate even though I don’t completely identify as being Episcopal any more.”

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Joel Serrano, who’s studying biochemistry junior, appreciates the Interfaith Center and its educational opportunities for personal growth. Photo by Jennifer Mello

“Science and religion don’t conflict. They only conflict when you have an error in mind. It’s easy to assimilate both into your own life, at least for me it is.Understanding the world around us is the role of religion and science, they just take two different approaches. Science takes empirical data to understand the world while religion looks at it in a more philosophical aspect.I love the Interfaith Center and the opportunities they provide for students to meet people of different faiths. Being able to be in a setting that’s set up to be  open-ended and have people from different backgrounds be able to express their own opinions and allow that to be there without any hostility, I think, really facilitates personal growth.”

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