Home for the Holidays 

Thanksgiving is over, and winter break is rapidly approaching. The upcoming season is jam-packed with festivities that serve as reminders to the wide variety of holidays celebrated by students over their two-week break.

With temperatures dropping and the end of the year rapidly approaching, winter break feels right around the corner. For some families, this means decorating their Christmas trees, baking festive desserts, and exchanging presents on Christmas morning. However, the holidays look different for students who don’t partake in Christmas or those who celebrate another holiday around this season.

Hanukkah is a holiday that will be celebrated between Dec 18 and Dec 26 this year and is one of the most popular Jewish religious observances. It is celebrated over an eight day period and includes a wide variety of religious and non-religious customs. One of more prominent traditions includes the lighting of the Menorah, as well as daily prayers that are followed by festive meals, games, and gifts. Sophomore Em Goldman celebrates Hanukkah by being with family.

“I celebrate Hanukkah with my mom, dad, and brother,” said Goldman. “When it comes to holidays, I love setting how people celebrate it because it all boils down to personal preference. My family sings the prayers as we light the candles of Hanukkah…I love everyone’s personal take on the holidays.”

Also celebrated over the winter break, Kwanzaa is a vibrant holiday that is typically viewed as a non religious holiday and sometimes celebrated along with Christmas. It is primarily an African American holiday celebrated in the United States; however, it is also celebrated in parts of the Caribbean. Many people that participate in Kwanzaa festivities come together for each day of Kwanzaa and celebrate by wearing traditional clothing and joining together in an evening community feast. 

Other students don’t celebrate any holidays in place of Christmas but still look forward to break because of the promises of traveling, coming together with family and friends, and a break from school. Sophomore Tala Shuaib takes the opportunity to visit her family that lives in New Jersey and appreciates getting to spend the holiday season with them.

“I love getting to visit my cousins,” said Shuaib. “They live far away, so I enjoy being able to spend that valuable time with them.”

Senior Homira Koraganie looks forward to winter break because it offers the chance to sleep in and have some downtime before the chaotic end of the first semester. “My favorite part of winter break is just having a break and being able to relax and have some mental pause from school,” said Korganie. 

It’s impossible to forget the holiday that not only concludes the break but marks the ending of the year, New Years. With countdowns to midnight, endless lists of resolutions, and upbeat celebrations, New Years Day is a holiday favored by many students, including sophomore Sophia Dolzhenkova.

“I love New Years because it’s always fun in my house since everyone’s really upbeat,” said Dozhenkova. “We stay up until nearly 5 AM as a way to celebrate the start of the New Year; it’s a really exciting experience every year for my family.”

With the wide variety of holidays coming up each with its own set of diverse traditions, there is always something to look forward to. Monday, Dec 19 marks the first official day of Winter Break, giving students three five-day weeks between the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. The busy weeks following Thanksgiving will no doubt bring a mountain of homework and assignments, but are evidently rewarding as they are followed by a long break full of festivities for everyone.