Different cultures celebrate unique holiday

Ellie Baguzis ‘16

Opinions Editor

Winter is the season of celebration. While Christmas is the most widely-celebrated holiday by LCN students, it is not the only one. Students and staff come from various backgrounds and cultures, all with unique traditions.

Math teacher Alissa Arden celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas because half of her family is Jewish and the other half is Catholic. Despite different religions, both sides of her family are close.

“My Jewish side of the family invites my Christian side of the family over, and we actually celebrate Hanukkah altogether,” Arden said.

They eat traditional Jewish foods, like potato latkes, which are fried pancakes made out of potatoes.

“We have a variety of foods, and play fun games together as a family,” Arden said.

As a kid, though, Arden did not get double the presents!

“Growing up my mom would just save one of my Christmas gifts and give it to me on Hanukkah,” she said.

“Hanukkah matters just like Christmas does to a lot of people. It’s not all about the religious aspect, but about the time to get together with your family,” Arden said. “Hanukkah is really the only uplifting Jewish holiday celebrated; the rest are more somber and religious.”

Kevin Keller ‘15 grew up in a Christian household but has a background in Jewish culture. “Hanukkah is a big part of my culture so I love getting to celebrate it; it is such an uplifting holiday.” Keller said.

Even though Keller does not get the opportunity to celebrate it every year, he loves when he gets the opportunity to do so.

“During Hanukkah, you light a candle every day for seven days in honor of those who were imprisoned which I find very sincere,” Keller said.

Harman Singh ‘16 is part of the religion of Sikhism. On November 22, Sikhs celebrate the birth of Guru Nanak, who is the first spiritual teacher of the Sikh.

During their holiday celebration, they go to the Sikh Temple and read the Holy Scripture.

“It takes two continuous days to read all 430 pages,” Singh said.

The holiday has a great impact on Singh.

“It brings you back to the mindset of connecting to the origins of Sikhism, what it’s all about, and being who you’re truly supposed to be,” he said.

Random fact about the celebration: The dates on the calendar are sometimes skewed and some have a different day for the date of Guru Nanak’s birth, but the one in use right now says it is on November 22.

Katie Szynkowski ‘16 is part of the religion of Paganism.

“Yule is a very nature-based holiday, celebrating the change in season,” Szynkowski said.

To commemorate the occasion, friends and family gather to exchange food and talk about the weather. Many Christmas traditions have Pagan roots: caroling, hanging ornaments, and kissing beneath the mistletoe all originated through Paganism.

“When my family celebrates Christmas, my sister and I think of it as celebrating the Winter Solstice,” Szynkowski said.

The solstice is the time of year, summer or winter, when the sun reaches its highest or lowest points in the sky.

No matter what holiday LCN students celebrate, December is a season to spend time with family and friends.