"Happy Easter, Carla!"
Rosemary called to her friend in the hallway as she entered the classroom. "Happy Naw-Ruz everyone!"
The members of the New Era Baha'i Club looked up from their lunches. Everyone smiled.
"Happy Naw-Ruz to you, too, Rosemary," Michael said. "Come join us."
The New Era Baha'i Club was having its regular lunch meeting. Every day kids from all different religions and races got together to talk, to plan Unity Fairs, to make plans and to consult about problems. Rosemary looked around the room at the diverse faces. Michael was white, Desiree was black, Juana and Julia were twins from Mexico. Jason was Asian, Mas'ud was from Africa and there was a new boy.
"Hi, I'm Rosemary," she said. "What holiday are you celebrating this time of year?"
"This is my new friend, Marty," Michael said, introducing them.
"I'm Jewish," Marty said. "So I'm celebrating Purim this time of year."
"Joyous Purim," Rosemary said to Marty. She sat down at the big, round table. She waved to Mr. Keith, their advisor, who was correcting papers at his desk.
"Spring is such a great time of year," Juana said. "So many religions are having holy days."
"As a matter of fact, I've just found a new book in the library that shows how people celebrate holidays," Mr. Keith told them.
Jason got up and went to Mr. Keith's desk. Mr. Keith handed him a big colorful book and a calendar. "Look at this," Jason said. "It's about holidays all around the world. See, it shows where the custom of decorating Easter eggs came from and why Jewish people celebrate Purim as a victory over a bad ruler."
Michael came and pointed to the table of contents. "What does your family do for Purim, Marty?"
Marty grinned. "We give gifts to friends and help the poor and needy. We have something called the Fast of Esther, then we have a day of feasting. This year the festival starts on March 22 at sundown."
"Baha'is celebrate this time of year, too. We have our new year, called Naw-Ruz, on the first day of Spring, March 21st. We have a fast right before we celebrate, too. And then we celebrate the twelve days of Ridvan from April 9th to 21st. That's when Baha'u'llah declared his mission to the world."
Desiree pointed to a block of text with the picture of a big, golden Buddha surrounded by flowers. "Gautama Buddha was born on April 8th," she said. "I wonder if the Buddhist kids at our school celebrate in some special way. Do they have a flower festival like this picture shows?"
"Look at this multi-faith calendar," Marty said. "There are so many celebrations in March and April. The Zoroastrians celebrate Jamshedi Noruz on March 21st, too. It's a renewal of life after winter. The Moslems call it Naw-Ruz in Persia just like the Baha'is. The Hindus celebrate Holi for three days in the Spring. What a great time for the new year to start, when everything is starting to bloom again!"
"Easter is really about renewal and rebirth, too," Juana commented. "That's when Christians celebrate Jesus Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. It's like a birth of renewed faith."
For several minutes the friends turned the pages of the big book and exclaimed over one picture or another. Then they sat back down to finish their lunches. The calendar was open on the table.
Rosemary looked at the group. "Springtime is a great time to teach the Faith," she said. "When kids are celebrating their holidays, we can share their fun and tell them about our holidays, too."
Julia nodded. "We always decorate Easter eggs and go to Easter Sunday services at my aunt's church. This year we're going to invite my aunt and uncle and our cousins to our Ridvan party."
"Great idea," Jason said. "I think I'll make holiday cards for my friends and put a list of all the holidays in them."
Michael leaned forward on his elbows. "Last year I gave some of my friends a plant, then wished them a happy new year in March. They asked a lot of questions and we started talking about symbols of new birth and stuff. This year maybe I'll make flowers."
Mas'ud pulled out a big bag filled with sesame seed cookies. "Our family made these and gave them to all of our neighbors for Naw-Ruz.
I brought some for all of us. Happy Naw-Ruz!"
Mas'ud passed the plate around and everyone took a cookie.
"You're really a good cook, Mas'ud!"
"We're all a whole lot more alike than different," Marty told them as he chomped on his cookie. "Maybe we should make a display for the library so that everyone can see the different holidays and festivals that people celebrate this time of year."
The New Era club kids looked at each other and at Marty. "Cool idea," Rosemary said. Then they all looked over at their advisor.
"Hey, Mr. Keith ... "
(by Cindy Savage, illustrated by Robin Allen; The Brilliant Star magazine, March-April 1997)