by Eric Shor and Kaylee Baez
The holidays are about more than just unwrapping presents Christmas morning and lighting candles during Hanukkah. This time of year allows people the opportunity to spend time with their friends and families and celebrate their own unique traditions. Many WHS students celebrate the holiday break differently
Culture and Religion
For countless years, both religion and culture have played integral parts in the holiday season. While some traditions have made it into mainstream American culture, others are less commonly practiced, one example being the German tradition of hiding the Christmas pickle.
According to germanpulse.com, many believe this tradition originated in Germany, however, others believe the tradition started here in America. Junior Sarah Pavlesek said that her family participates in this tradition.
Said Pavlesek: “All of the kids leave and my uncle hides the pickle somewhere on the tree. We come back and the first one to find it gets the money that the parents put together.”
According to journalstar.com, Thanksgiving was on the second night of Hanukkah this year, and the two holidays will not fall on the same day for another 79,000 years.
Said junior Mia Miller: “Hanukkah is a very important holiday, especially this year, because the second night of Hanukkah happens to fall on Thanksgiving.... My family and I [celebrated] by lighting the menorah, opening gifts, making homemade latkes and singing the prayers every night for eight nights.”
For some, food defines their holiday tradition. Senior Tom Gerris said that it is an Italian tradition to eat the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. Gerris said that his family eats king crab, mussels, clams, scallops, shrimp, a type of fish like cod, scungilli and squid.
Added Gerris, “[Eating the seafood dinner on Christmas Eve] is my favorite part of the holiday...and my favorite meal of the year.”
Besides enjoying time off from school and work, some students look forward to taking part in unique holiday games and activities. Many take advantage of winter break to do things they typically wouldn’t be able to do during the school year.
Senior Ben Schuman said that for the past two years on Christmas Day, he has gone to a Brooklyn Nets basketball game with his dad. Additionally, some students use this time as an opportunity to travel.
Said senior Sarah Margolies: “I’ve been to Hawaii, the Galapagos Islands and Florida over the past years. Traveling lets me see how different areas and countries of the world celebrate their holiday seasons. I get to observe new traditions that my family doesn’t practice. This year, we plan to go to Islamorada in the Florida Keys.”
However, many students choose to stay away from the holiday frenzy and spend their time enjoying the relaxing winter days at home.
Said senior Shea Fitzpatrick: “My entire extended family celebrates Christmas and most of them are really big on the huge Christmas dinners, the Florida trips and cruises, the Passion plays, the huge family gatherings—all the classic stuff you find straight out of a Christmas movie. Then you have my immediate family, who spends Christmas day at the movies and eating Chinese food with all of our Jewish friends.”
Added Fitzpatrick: “Every year, we kind of make our holidays up as we go along, with a few constants here and there when we can. One year we’ll go to our cousin’s house, another year to NYC, another to the Grounds for Sculpture.... You never know where you’ll end up, and it’s nice that we’re all pretty content with that.”