Video celebrates different religious holiday traditions

A new video shares the holiday customs celebrated by those of different faiths in the Mahoning Valley.

The idea for the project came from Melanie Vincent, a Warren Heritage Center board member and a Wiccan, who was frustrated by the culture war debate about whether to say “merry Christmas” or “happy holidays” in December.

“I heard a lot of negative remarks about merry Christmas and not wanting to say happy holidays, and I decided to show them why,” Vincent said. “It’s just to show there are other holidays being celebrated.”

With public gatherings limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they decided to produce a video with representatives from different faiths sharing their customs and beliefs. “Celebrations of the Holiday Season,” which was shot and edited by Allie Vugrincic of Warren, debuted on YouTube on Dec. 22 on the Warren Heritage Center’s page.

The 45-minute project features Melissa Keen on Wicca and the Yule celebration, Ruth Ann Capito and Nicole Rek on Byzantine Catholic traditions, Pastor Mike Mizenko on the non-denomenational Christian church, Cole Stern on Judaism and Hanukkah, Cindee Mines on Methodist beliefs, Elder Paul Hill Jr. on Kwanzaa and Afreen Hussain on Islam.

Most of the segments were filmed at the Warren Heritage Center. President Jim Valesky introduces the video, and Vincent speaks at the end.

“I think the main idea behind it was to bring more understanding to people,” Vugrincic said. “The big takeaway for me is so many of these religions and celebrations are intertwined in ways people aren’t aware of. We share similarities and are not as different as we think.”

Vincent said she hopes the video teach viewers to love each other and be less judgmental, and the project was educational for her as well.

“I learned quite a bit about the ways each denomenation’s celebrations are different,” she said. “Going from Catholic to Methodist, how their celebrations are different but they’re important to each person.”

Vincent said she would like to have displays at the Warren Heritage Center for different faiths and a lecture series next December, but the video will serve as a year-round message.

“I hope a lot of people will take the time to watch it and become a little more open-minded and care about other people’s beliefs,” she said.



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