PeaceHealth facilities celebrate diverse winter customs with displays, cuisine

December 15, 2023

These are four of the seven banner themes that PeaceHealth has created as part of its Winter Traditions campaign. The campaign highlights some of the customs and celebrations of different populations that PeaceHealth serves.


"If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together."

This winter, several PeaceHealth hospitals are brightening up the grayness of winter with a festive campaign celebrating seven different customs or observances.

The Winter Traditions campaign features colorful banners and culturally specific menu options in the hospitals' cafeterias.


Charles Prosper, CEO of the PeaceHealth Northwest network, came up with the idea for the campaign, which began last year at three hospitals and this year is underway at seven. He says highlighting varied customs is a way of nurturing a sense of belonging for co-workers, patients and visitors. It's also an opportunity to learn about one another and to share in each other's cultures, he says.

"When someone sees their culture reflected, it's a warming feeling," he says.

Displaying openness
The 2023 Winter Traditions campaign began last month at PeaceHealth campuses in Bellingham, Sedro-Woolley, Friday Harbor, Vancouver and Longview in Washington; Ketchikan in Alaska; and Springfield in Oregon.

During seven periods between early November and early February, the facilities highlight a different custom with banners that are about 8 feet tall on display in lobbies, elevator bays and other common areas. The banners include images associated with the highlighted customs and text explaining them.

Each week, the facilities' cafeterias have menu options that reflect the customs — in some cases they are using staff members' recipes. In some facilities, associates wear their traditional or ceremonial garb for the selected winter custom. Some staff give informal talks about those traditions.

Prosper says the initiative shows PeaceHealth's openness to a diverse array of cultures.

Festival of Lights
The first week of the Winter Traditions began Nov. 12 — the participating PeaceHealth sites displayed banners and offered cafeteria cuisine associated with Diwali, the new year observance of Hindu, Jain and Sikh cultures. The banner content explained that Diwali celebrations focus on the power of light over darkness — revelers often light lamps to symbolize this concept.

These are three of the seven banner themes that PeaceHealth has created as part of its Winter Traditions campaign.


For the eight days beginning Dec. 7, the campaign focused on Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights. Hanukkah honors a successful Jewish revolt in ancient times and remembers how at the time of the revolt, dwindling oil lit lamps miraculously for eight days.

For more than a week beginning Dec. 16, the facilities will display banners and offer cuisine associated with Las Posadas, or The Inns, a Latino festival and procession commemorating Joseph and Mary's journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and their struggle to find shelter. The same period, the facilities will celebrate Parol, a Filipino tradition. A parol is a star-shaped lantern displayed at Christmas in the Philippines.

Kwanzaa, a celebration of the pan-African community, will be marked from Dec. 26 until the new year. Each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of seven values: unity, self-determination, cooperative economics, collective responsibility, purpose, creativity and faith.

On Jan. 13, the PeaceHealth sites will highlight Malanka, a Ukrainian folk holiday that kicks off the new year. Malanka customs have to do with a sheaf of wheat that references a sheaf that Joseph used to seal a crack in the stable where Jesus was born, according to legend.

The Winter Traditions will conclude on Feb. 10 with a tribute to the Lunar New Year that many Asian cultures celebrate beginning with the new moon of the lunar calendar. Gift-giving, dances, fireworks and lantern festivals are part of the observances.

Prosper says Winter Traditions is part of a larger systemwide effort. All PeaceHealth hospitals have resource groups that give particular populations of employees a chance to celebrate themselves and host programming to educate colleagues on their group. Prosper says the resource groups give a voice to employee populations and their allies. Some of these groups include ones specific to women, indigenous people, LGBTQ+, social justice, veterans, Latinx and Black caregivers and their allies.


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