Friday Letter, 12-18-15

This is the last Friday Letter of 2015 and I thought I’d wrap up the year by sharing some of the holiday traditions native to the countries represented by the executive team. I have two special announcements at the end of the letter, so read through the unique perspectives on the holidays to get to a couple of gifts that have been offered to Cascadia.

Germany (representing Terence, who is part German and part Chinese): Did you know that on Christmas Day, the first person to find the pickle hidden somewhere on the tree gets an extra present?

Switzerland (representing Eric, who is part Swiss and part UK): Klausjagen is a festival celebrated on December 6 that pre-dates Christmas and is tied to the “chasing of wild spirits”.  Given its popularity (among the people) but unwelcomed status (by the Church) it was banned in the 1700’s until it was “Christianized” and turned into the “Chase for Saint Nicholas” in the late 1800’s.

Italy (representing Dede): Instead of Santa, Italian children await the arrival of Befana (a friendly witch) who leave sweets and toys on January 5.

New Zealand (representing Rosemary): Rather than using a conifer, some in New Zealand use the Pohutukawa tree at Christmas.

Netherlands (representing Gina’s Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry): Children in the Netherlands await the arrival of Sinterklaas on December 6.  He lives in Madrid, Spain and arrives to one of the ports in the Netherlands by boat.

Scotland (representing Meagan): Christmas was banned in Scotland until the 1950’s, so the traditional winter holiday was Hogmanay, an event representing the Scottish New Year on December 31.

China (representing Terence): Many people in China are unfamiliar with Christmas despite the fact that most of the world’s Christmas decorations and plastic trees are made there.  However, a tradition that’s becoming popular on Christmas Eve is the giving of apples. Many stores have apples wrapped up in colored paper for sale. People give apples on Christmas Eve because, in Chinese, Christmas Eve is called ‘Ping An Ye’ (which means quiet or silent night) and the word for apple in Chinese is ‘Ping Guo’ which sounds similar.

And on to the gifts bestowed upon Cascadia.

As we wrap up the year, we were informed of two special events. Cascadia was chosen to host (or co-host) these events and it will certainly be a treat for us all.  The Washington State Supreme Court will be hearing three cases on our campus on Thursday, January 14. About 3-4 times per year, the Supreme Court goes on the road to hear cases in different public settings, complete with bailiff, TVW live broadcast, and all. This visit was arranged through the work of Kelly Snyder at UWB and will occur in the ARC.  The justices will hear two cases in the morning (9:00 am and 10:00 am) and one at 1:30 pm. They will allow some time for questions before they recess for deliberation. Cascadia faculty are welcome to bring classes to hear one, two or all three of the cases. Individuals are also invited to attend.

As well, the Governor has selected Cascadia as the site to hold his Race and Social Justice Conference. The final two locations were narrowed down to us and Microsoft.  Given our commitment to this work, we won out over Microsoft.  The conference occurs April 15 all over Cascadia’s side of the campus.  This is an invite-only event, but we are working with them to provide some access for students and faculty.  As we determine the details, we will let you know what opportunities are available.

Thanks to all of the hard work you’ve completed over the last 11 weeks. I hope your holiday season is filled with your own happy traditions.

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