CDA Blog #20: Winter Holidays and Religious Tolerance

CDA Blog: Winter Holidays and Religious Tolerance

It’s that special time of the year again.  The Holidays are just around the corner, with only a few days left in 2017.  For many people, including myself, it’s a wonderful time of the year in the Republic of Korea: festive lights everywhere, gift shopping, holiday parties, and so on.

But in addition to the gift-giving and holiday cheer, it is important to reflect on the deeper meanings of the season.  For many people, the Holidays embody the spirit of charity, and the importance of thinking of those who are less fortunate or are marginalized in society.

The Holidays also represent a time for fraternity and communion, as we seek to build stronger bridges with others, and, most importantly, live in peace.

Earlier this month, I had the honor of lighting the big, dazzling Christmas tree at Seoul Plaza.  Thousands of people attended the ceremony to celebrate the season.  We all enjoyed the wonderful Christmas carols sung by local choirs, exchanged messages of goodwill, and admired the tree as it lit up for the first time this year.  It was a wonderful evening, and I was honored to be part of the festivities.

CDA Blog: Winter Holidays and Religious Tolerance
Yet, aside from the pageantry and fun, this year’s celebration at Seoul Plaza held a deeper meaning for me.  At the event, we were joined by the Jordanian Ambassador and his wife, and together we celebrated our shared hopes for peace and brotherhood, regardless of religious belief.  Gestures like this reflect our desire to seek common ground among the many religious and cultural beliefs practiced around the world. Such actions can give us hope that together we can find a way to live in peace and harmony.

From everyone here at the U.S. Embassy and from my family, whatever holiday you might celebrate this December, we wish you all a very joyful time and a prosperous New Year!