Why Orthodox Families Deserve Their Day Off

Orthodox Patriarch during the January 6th Christmas Eve celebration.

Orthodox Patriarch during the January 6th Christmas Eve celebration.

Maya Ghobrial, Reporter

Orthodox families in Roanoke County every year take an absence from school on the 7th of January to celebrate a significant religious holiday, Christmas. And every year they have to miss a day of school to enjoy this holiday. My goal is to persuade the school board that Orthodox students deserve the day off to be able to spend it with family, and not have to stress about schoolwork or lessons that they’re missing.  

Christmas all around the world is traditionally celebrated on the 25th of December. To allow students and all staff a break around this holiday, the week leading up to it is off from school. Orthodox public-school students do not have the luxury of having a day off to celebrate their Christmas, also known as “Little Christmas,” with their friends and families.  

Abouna Saweeres, a priest at St. Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church say he feels that “I think they should give schools the day off because it is an important holiday to us you know? We should spend it with our family not at school.” Christmas is an important holiday for everyone which is why Abouna says, “It’s very important for kids to come to church on Christmas instead of school because of our praising, our worship.” Having to miss school causes students much unnecessary stress and anxiety over make-up work, exams, homework, and other academic assignments they may be missing on this day. This huge amount of stress that comes from missing school may be a big reason many Orthodox students put off their holiday to go to school and not miss anything. “I hope they close schools on this day because we stay up late the night before so kids will be tired the next day. Also, some families still decide to send their kids to school to avoid any stress of missing important schoolwork.” 

Edward Pierre thinks that it is understandable that Roanoke County does not give students January 7th off. “Our celebration isn’t very well known so I don’t expect them to give the day off to students. It is however getting more and more well-known so I hope they will eventually notice and give the day off.” If you ever find yourself trying to find “Little Christmas” or any Orthodox holiday on a calendar, you won’t find it. No Orthodox holiday is on any calendar. “I think this is definitely wrong. Out of all the things they choose to put on a calendar, and they can’t include any Orthodox holiday?” It’s not only Virginia that hasn’t given schools the 7th off but everyone else! Even schools in huge cities like New York and California still have not given students the day off even though a large portion of their students are Orthodox. “Again, I think for now it’s just a matter of them not realizing how many Orthodox students they have so they don’t find a need to take a day off for every student.” 

The Orthodox religion doesn’t have any other days off for their holidays. So, the request for January 7th to be taken off should not seem excessive or needy, but instead just and right.