Celebrations Across Cultures
Students talk about the different ways they celebrate holidays.
By MarcAnthony Ramos and Aaliyah Montgomery
Christmas Culture In America
Junior Chloe Corvello talks about the "typical" American Christmas.
Junior Chloe Corvello has celebrated Christmas every year since she could remember. She never worried about another holiday or not celebrating Christmas not one year. Corvello knows it to be a holiday that brings family and friends together around during the winter season.
According to the Pew Research Center, Christmas is the most widely celebrated holiday in the US with 90% celebrating Christmas. The same research also shows that of the people who celebrate Christmas, only 46% observe the religious aspect. Corvello’s family is apart of this group who’s celebration is more cultural than religious.
Corvello’s family celebrates the traditional way with presents, gathering and eating food together.
“So my family celebrates Christmas, and we don’t celebrate it with any religious intent. We just celebrate it as a way to have family come together and to give gifts and receive them. Also to eat together,” Corvello said.
Although we use winter break to spend the holidays with our families, Corvello believes we also need this time off to take a break from school and work in general.
“I think winter break is necessary because despite the fact that some people don’t celebrate certain holidays, you’re halfway through the year nearly. Personally I feel burnt out already and I feel like there’s a need for a break whether it’s for a holiday or just to rest,” Corvello said. •
Mexican-American Christmas Eve
Senior Kassandra Burciaga explains how Mexican-Americans celebrate during Christmas Eve.
On Dec. 24, senior Kassandra Burciaga’s house is filled with family opening presents and spending time with each other. While some people associate this scene with the Christmas day, celebrating a night early is a common tradition with Mexican-American families. Burciaga spends her day eating food, socializing and opening presents with family.
Similar to the way Americans typically celebrate Christmas, Mexican-Americans don’t celebrate that differently. One difference that is easily identifiable is Mexican-Americans Christmas consists of opening presents during midnight on Dec. 24. This usually involves family gathering together and happiness around the household.
Burciaga likes celebrating this way because of the way it emphasizes unity.
“My favorite part is staying up until 12, and then opening gifts and before opening gifts we give each other hugs. Unity, I feel like, is part of Christmas a lot and just family coming together,” Burciaga said.
Burciaga also said she’s interested in seeing how other families and communities choose to spend their holidays.
“I wish I knew how different religions or different cultures celebrate their holidays or how they spend their break. I know it differs from the way me and my family celebrates Christmas,” Burciaga said. •
Eid at AHS
Junior Idrees Altareb sheds light on the Islamic holiday Eid.
When people think of Holidays, the one that comes to mind for most is Christmas. This means that many other religions and cultures are often overlooked and aren’t shown as much love. Junior Idrees Altareb doesn’t celebrate Christmas and instead celebrates the Islamic holiday Eid Al-Fitr (a month of fasting and giving back) and Eid Al-Adha (a day for charity).
“Eid is a day where everyone gets together as a family to go to the Mosque and pray, then after we eat and show love. I really like it,” Altareb said.
This happens around summertime, after Ramadan. There’s also another Eid around springtime. Altareb spends his Christmas day as he would spend any other day on break.
"It’s just like any other day. We don’t celebrate it. I wake up in the morning, eat breakfast and play video games all day,” Altareb said.
Idrees opens up about how he feels toward the holiday season and not having anything to celebrate over break.
“When I was younger and growing up, I’d come back from winter break and gets pretty sad when kids would flex what they got for Christmas, I felt pretty left out,” Altareb said. •
Juniors Hank, Sam, and Sophia Johnson speak to celebrating Hanukkah in a Christmas-focused country.
Juniors Sam, Hank and Sophia Johnson are all ethnically and religiously Jewish and celebrate all the Jewish holidays.
“We celebrate all the Jewish holidays. Passover, Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur are just a few. Hanukkah seems to be the most popular Jewish holiday, and for those that don’t know, Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish celebration that commemorates the rededication of the Temple after it was destroyed in the second century B.C.E.,” Sophia said.
This is what Hanukkah looks like at the Johnson House.
“We decorate the table and wait till sundown to light our menorahs and say a prayer for Hanukkah and then eat dinner, then we open presents from family while waiting for the candles to burn out, then go to bed. If it’s a Hanukkah party, then there’s going to be more food and more people,” Sophia said.
Both Hank and Sophia agree that Hanukkah and many other holidays from the Jewish religion are often overlooked.
“I feel that huge U.S. Holidays like Christmas aren’t overlooked because that’s what most people celebrate but Hanukkah is overlooked because for example the school year is modified to cater to the Christian holidays. For Jewish holidays, we have to miss school and make up our work,” Hank said.
“For Yom Kippur, it’s unrealistic for me to do all this homework when I’ve been fasting all day but I have to because I’m missing school for my holiday and I don’t want to be behind,” Sophia said.
All three siblings express their unhappiness with the lack of respect being shown.
“I don’t mind that our holidays are overlooked compared to other holidays, but at the same time, I really want more respect from others. You don’t have to celebrate a holiday to be able to respect it,” Sam said. •