The primary winter holiday most Americans think of is Christmas, but students share their colorful cultural backgrounds during the holiday season.
The holiday season is where most people celebrate their cultures and give back to their community. As for some students, it’s all about being proud of their heritage.
Chanukah, also known as Hanukkah, is the Jewish celebration of the menorah holding light for eight days and seven nights. This year Hanukkah was celebrated from December 2 to December 10.
The story of Hanukkah is that villagers were trying to keep bad spirits away, but one night they attempted to attack the common folk. The spirits were sensitive to light, so one man lit a menorah, with eight candles for the nights and one in the middle to keep everyone safe. The menorah remained lit for eight days and seven nights. Ever since that event, they lit the menorah in remembrance once a year.
Junior Maddie Kuzma shares her love for her culture.
“There’s not a lot of Jews living in Fauquier county, and especially not a lot of Jewish students at Kettle Run. It’s good to have some representation here.” Kuzma said. “I have always been intrigued by my Jewish heritage. My grandmother is a journalist in her community’s newspaper and my dad has a large passion for all history. Every seder, I love listening to my relatives speak in Hebrew and playing games with my cousins.”
Kuzma shares a blended home, with her father being raised Christian and her mother being raised Jewish. She shares an insight on how her family celebrates their meshed heritage.
“For Hanukkah, we go up to my mom’s relatives and we read from the Torah in Hebrew and follow most of the basic traditions. We play all the classic games and eat traditional food.” Kuzma said. “As for Christmas, we go to my grandparents house and enjoy family holiday traditions with our immediate family.”
Senior Ethan Jakum, also celebrates Hanukkah and he shares his family traditions for the holiday.
“Our traditions are that the whole family gets together and we eat dinner. We also pray over the menorah.” Jakum said. “On the last night of Hanukkah we all give each other socks.”
The Jakum family celebrates Christmas as well, but not in the religious view. Jakum sights it as another way to get the family together and spend time with one another.
Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Mikulás, Mikolaj and San Nicola all have the same thing in common. They all bring happiness to children across the globe.
Saint Nicholas Day falls on Dec. 6, and for some students this is a regularly celebrated tradition.
The story of the mostly European and Middle Eastern holiday follows the journey of “Father Christmas” or Saint Nicholas as he delivers presents to children for their good behavior during that year. The “good” children receive oranges and chocolates in most stories. However, “bad” children seem to receive a visit from Krampusz who punishes bad children by leaving a wheat bundle or rod for their parents.
Sophomore Mae Sutliff takes part in celebrating this holiday.
“Ever since I was little we’ve celebrated St. Nick’s Day.” Sutliff said. “When I was a kid we would travel to California every year in the winter and never had a Christmas at our own home, St. Nick’s Day was our time as a family to open our gifts in our boots every morning on Dec. 6.”
The Sutliff family tradition was created when the oldest Sutliff, Ellyse, was born. Their mother, Janelle, decided it was time to create a family holiday tradition.
“The idea of a Saint blessing kids boots or shoes in the spirit of giving at Christmas time really hooked my parents. We never believed in Santa as kids, to my sisters and I though, St. Nick was a person we believed put gifts in our shoes.” Sutliff said. “As we got older we understood how it was our parents doing it but we took into appreciation the story of St. Nick and what he did.”
The morning of December 6 for the Sutliff family includes getting up early and celebrating their modified winter holiday as family.
“My sisters and I sprint down the stairs to get our boots and open them. We always get our favorite candy and sometimes a small gift we ask for Christmas.” Sutliff said.
“I love our traditions because they make the Christmas holiday in general so special and fun.”
German exchange student, Richard Meseg shares some of his family holiday traditions.
Much like Sutliff, Meseg celebrates Saint Nickolaus Day, the German version of the holiday. However, the “good” children receive apples and other fruits and “bad” children get coals.
Although the holiday in Germany tends to have more a religious take on the world.
“Most people go to Church in the morning and the evening, but most of the people are just happy that they don’t have to work or go to school” Meseg said.
The Christmas celebration in Germany tends to be much different from the typical U.S. traditions.
“We celebrate Christmas in the evening of the 24th and not in the morning of the 25th like Americans.” Meseg said. “Generally, we go to church around 6 and to remind us why we actually celebrate Christmas and then we have a Christmas dinner and give gifts to each other.”
The holiday season is all about being able to spend your time with your family. Spreading their heritage to their peers helps come students to enjoy the holidays.