December Diversity: unique ways that MHS students celebrate the Holiday Season

Lia Koski, Reporter

   Decorating trees, drinking hot cocoa, going ice skating, lighting candles, singing songs, gathering with family and friends: these are all different ways that MHS students may celebrate the holidays. 

   While Christmas may be one of the most popular winter holidays, it is celebrated differently depending on a person’s culture or religion. Senior Sam Tolentino and Freshman Jacob Motak are an example of this, for both students celebrate Christmas in their own unique ways. 

   Tolentino celebrates a Filipino-style Christmas. “I would say the main difference between how my family celebrates Christmas versus how other families celebrate is the food that we eat. . .our Christmas dinner typically consists of a combination of both traditional Christmas food and traditional Filipino food. Food is a big part of Filipino culture and my family loves to go all out with cooking a variety of dishes every year. Another activity that Filipinos enjoy during the holidays as well as during other holidays is karaoke. It really creates a lively atmosphere and brings us all together,” Tolentino said.

   Meanwhile, Motak celebrates Christmas with his Polish family who also very much focuses on the food aspect of Christmas. His family starts the day off by fasting and then ends Christmas with a nine-course dinner. He spends this meal with his family members. 

   Additionally, Motak describes a unique Polish tradition of not eating meat and instead eating fish during the Holidays. They also eat oplatki, a prayer cracker that is used often in Polish culture. “You break them apart and then share them with people and your family. Then you pray,” Motak said. 

   However, Christmas is not the only major holiday celebrated in December. Holidays like Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and more are also popularly celebrated. 

   Sophomore Dylan Trahan celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah. Trahan celebrates Hanukkah by singing songs, lighting the menorah (a candelabrum that holds all eight candles), gathering with family and friends, and playing a dreidel game.

   Sophomore Hannah Roberts, too, celebrates Hanukkah. She defines Hanukkah as a Jewish holiday that celebrates when the Maccabees fought to regain their temple. During the fight, the Maccabees “lit a candle for light that was only supposed to last one day, and instead lasted eight days. So Hanukkah is eight nights,” she said.  

   Roberts also celebrates this holiday with her family. They eat traditional food like potato pancakes/latkes. 

   People who do not celebrate Christmas may feel underrepresented during the holiday season. When referring to the commercialization of Christmas, Roberts says that she feels this way, especially when she sees “one shelf of blue in the whole store when the rest is red and green.” 

   Even when celebrating a commercialized holiday like Christmas, students can still feel a sense of longing. 

   “There are many Filipino traditions that my relatives celebrate in the Philippines during the holidays that I wish I knew more about,” Tolentino stated. “Not all Filipinos celebrate the holidays the same and I think that’s really special, and I would love to see more representation of not only the traditions that I do celebrate but also the traditions that I don’t celebrate or have no knowledge of.”