“Miss, can you explain Easter in Canada?”
I start to nod, then I realize that have no idea what this student is *really* asking. Perhaps, I think, she is not Christian? I check. Nope, she’s Christian, so that’s not it.
I’m thinking about how to answer the question when, “Oh,” says another, “and I thought Ramadan was over? Didn’t you have that dinner on Thursday? Why are people still fasting?”
Y’all. Class has not even started. Correction: English class has not even started.
I begin eloquently, “Um…”
Ramadan seems easiest. I explain that Ramadan is a period of fasting that lasts… how many days? Dang it. My brain can’t find the number. I hesitate and look to the student teacher. He quickly supplies the number of days left.
“But you had the dinner,” says one astute student.
Yes, I explain, but Muslims break their fast each night after sundown. Now some students are confused. If people are eating, how are they fasting? I explain that people cannot safely fast for 30 entire days, that they fast between sun up and sun down. Some students look askance, but most seem satisfied, and none of the Muslim students disagrees.
This settled – ish – we move on. Next, I share that this week is also Passover. I say something about Abrahamic religions which, upon reflection, is perhaps not my wisest move. I try to explain what Abrahamic religions are, but simplify to “Judaism, Christianity and Islam” and move on.
Back to Passover. Israelites. Egypt. Blood on the doors. “Wait – what? They put blood on their doors?” Yes, to save their oldest sons. And now I’m trying to remember the whole story, but it’s been a while, and, again, the student teacher (thank goodness!) adds some details – lamb’s blood, Angel of Death – and most students nod along, though a few are clearly still wondering about the blood, and a few are not paying attention at all.
Whew. On to Easter. This one should be the easiest because I grew up in this tradition, but I stumble as I explain that Jesus is the Son of God because I’m trying to explain, not preach, so in my mind I’m wondering should I say that he is the Son of God or just that we believe he is? And somehow I say that Jesus is a prophet. I’m immediately corrected by a student who says Christians do NOT believe Jesus is a prophet, but by now the back of my brain is at work, and I’m wondering if we can think of the Messiah as a prophet – but then what is he prophesying? So probably not ok to say he’s a prophet – and I really need to keep explaining Easter to this class full of students with really good questions which I thought I could answer, so I go with “Messiah.” Of course, most people in the class don’t know that word so I revert to Son of God, and explain Good Friday in about one sentence because, again, this is English class and finally we get to Easter. And on Easter, the third day, He rose again.
“Like, he came back to life?” And, at last, this is a question I can answer without hesitation, “Yes, in the Christian tradition, Jesus died and then he came back to life on the third day.” No one objects. There’s a brief pause, and I feel relieved that I got something right in this impromptu rundown of this week’s holidays.
Just then, the student who originally asked about Easter, the question that started this all, says, “But I still don’t understand. Why are there so many bunnies?”
6 thoughts on “Holidays”
This is what teachers TRY to do every single day – multiple times of each day – explain the intersection of life, culture and society. You are doing a great job answering the hard questions and offer your students a glimpse into a work they do not yet know
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I’m not sure I did a great job explaining all of this, but I know that showing students that we can talk about these things is important, even when I don’t know all the answers!
Heehee! The question that cannot be answered, with all the very important religious holidays happening in the next days and weeks, where DO all those bunnies fit in? I love your willingness to put yourself out there and answer your students’ questions honestly and with sensitivity. I can tell that they feel safe asking you things.
Thank you! But I still can’t tell them about the bunnies… heeheehee
Ha! What an ending! This reminds me that a similar conversation started during an assessment in third grade this week. I wonder if anyone ever circled back!
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Imagine what information third graders would take home from this sort of conversation – hahaha