Since 2004, Appalachian has presented a fun and interactive fair that provides easy and accessible ways to learn about cultural and religious international holidays.
A festival of images, sounds, foods, and activities that represent these holidays, "Find Yosef a Holiday" is an annual event organized by students and presented by the Office of Multicultural Student Development. Each year, the campus and the public are invited to participate in this unique celebration that shares holiday tradition and history, and supports and affirms the cultural backgrounds and experiences of all members of Appalachian's community. The reference to Appalachian's mascot, Yosef, pays tribute to Appalachian's own cultural reference and invites students to think broadly about what culture and community mean to them.
What holiday is meaningful to you?
Appalachian State University students share customs from around the world at "Find Yosef a Holiday."
This fair, which incorporates the name of Appalachian's beloved mascot, is one of many campus events throughout the year that celebrate multiculturalism.
Augusto Peña, Interim Director, Multicultural Student Development: Our students celebrate their holidays and their traditions when they go home for the break and we really don't have a lot of that on campus. So, "Find Yosef a Holiday" is about an opportunity for our students to celebrate their traditions and learn from other traditions all in one event in one night.
Christine Chen, representing Chinese New Year at Find Yosef a Holiday: I've been in Boone for almost four years now, and Chinese New Year has always been a part of my life even though I'm not at home with my family. Chinese New Year is bringing in the new year based on the lunar calendar. A childhood memory that really sticks out is that there's lots of red, there's lots of food, just families coming together, having a great time just spending time with each other.
Amy Fine, representing Chanukah at Find Yosef a Holiday: My name's Amy Fine. I'm representing the Jewish holiday of Chanukah. It originated in Israel but is now widely celebrated throughout the world. This is absolutely one of my favorite holidays. I grew up with it. It's different from the other Jewish holidays in that it's not studied in the Hebrew bible, called the Torah. It's not so much about going to synagogue. It's more about celebrating the Jewish traditions together as a family and that means eating together and playing games together and just being with each other. That's the most important part of this holiday and that's the most important thing to me.
Ashley Gay, representing Winter Solstice at Find Yosef a Holiday: My name is Ashley Gay. I'm representing the Winter Solstice, or Yule. There's not really a specific country of origin. It originated as a tradition in most of Eastern Europe. Yule is about celebrating the rebirth of the Sun God and celebrating the transition from darker days of the year to lighter days. Some common traditions include the burning of a yule log and the burning of candles and anything that represents the sun returning. I think it's a very interesting holiday because it inspires many of the traditions that we use today in our own personal holidays, such as bringing in Christmas trees, stringing up garlands and even the candles.
Augusto Peña: Diversity is something that our university prides. We strive to be an inclusive community. I think that events like this build community because folks realize that, although their traditions, their languages and their food might be different, there's some basic factors that are present among a lot of these traditions. There's an emphasis on family. There's an emphasis on giving, on being together. I think when students see that, they become closer and become more of a community.
Amy Fine: One of the things I really love about Appalachian is the fact that we have diverse events like Find Yosef a Holiday. It gives us a chance to celebrate our cultures, our traditions and really celebrate each other and learn a lot about where we come from. I think that makes us a much stronger community and a much stronger campus. As a whole, we really get along more when we know more about each other. I think that's one of the best things about this university.
Christine Chen: For as long as I've been here, Appalachian has definitely made an effort to outreach to different diverse populations. I know that, since I've been here, there have been so many events that showcase different cultures and their traditions and what they celebrate.
Amy Fine: What I'm learning especially is that knowing about these cultures and these traditions teaches you about where people come from. I've learned so much about my peers and about other members of the community here in Boone and at Appalachian, just through knowing what they celebrate and what they believe and where they come from. Whether it be Christmas, Kwanzaa or Winter Solstice, they're all really important holidays to other people. That's one of the most important things that I've learned.
Ashley Gay: I really enjoy the fact that we're going to be getting to learn about all of these different holidays that are celebrated in Winter because everybody has a holiday that they celebrate for the most part, and I think it's fascinating that there's so many and so few of us know what these other holidays are.
Augusto Peña: I've learned a great deal about lots of holidays that are Christian but that aren't celebrated in our country. I've also learned a lot about holidays that take place in other parts of the world. Knowing about these holidays makes the season a little bit nicer knowning that other folks around the world are celebrating in different ways.
Christine Chen: Happy New Year!
Ashley Gay: Good Yule!
Amy Fine: Hello! Happy Holidays!
Augusto Peña: From all of us at Appalachian State University, in whichever way you celebrate, Happy Holidays.
What do you think?
Share your feedback on this story.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 20,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.