(Jess Miller / For The Times)

Features

Students share holiday traditions

This holiday season, some families will light the menorah each night of Hanukkah, others will decorate their Christmas tree together, and many will ring in the new year.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/madelynesses/" target="_self">Madelyn Esses</a>

Madelyn Esses

December 12, 2021
Every family has different holiday traditions, some new and some that have been passed down through generations. However, each is just as special as the next. Some people will light the menorah as a family each night of Hanukkah, others will buy and decorate their Christmas tree together, some will dance and sing together to celebrate Kwanzaa, and many people around the world will countdown the new year on New Year’s Eve. 

Decorating Gingerbread houses, while playing holiday songs, is a holiday activity that friends and family can do together. It can be a very messy tradition, but one that is not to be forgotten. Many people will also watch traditional holiday movies at home or in the Theaters — usually the same ones every year — including popular ones such as Elf, Home Alone, and It’s a Wonderful Life.

“For the holidays, my family and I usually drive up to Ojai and celebrate there. Since my older sister and cousin are both off at college for their freshman year, winter break and the holiday season should be really exciting when I get to see them again,” Alice G. said.

Furthermore, for Hanukkah, many people light candles to represent each of the eight nights. A popular tradition is playing Dreidel while betting gelt, chocolate coins. Some families give a small gift every night while others receive their gifts on days scattered throughout the holiday. Many families cook homemade latkes and eat them throughout the eight nights.

“My family has a unique tradition of eating square pizza as a family on the last night of Hanukkah, which we have been doing ever since I can remember,” senior Kallen Paige said.

In addition, many families decorate their house and tree with lights, stars, and wreaths for Christmas. Senior Esha S.’s family has a tradition of cutting down their own Christmas tree. In addition, Elf on the Shelf is a popular Christmas tradition that people with younger children partake in: where an Elf is moved around the house leaving small gifts or treats leading up to Christmas. 

“My favorite holiday tradition is playing tag between the Christmas trees while searching for the perfect tree,” Nicolas H. said. 

Senior Cooper K. also partakes in very special family traditions.

“My grandma always makes waffles and bacon on Christmas morning and then we usually go to see a movie after we open gifts,” Cooper said.

Moreover, during Kwanzza, similarly to Hanukkah, gifts can be given on each night or sometimes all of the gifts are given on the last night. It lasts for a week and on the last night, December 31st, there is a large feast which not only celebrates food, such as African creole, Cajun catfish, and jerk chicken, but also celebrates African history and culture. Seven candles are placed in the Kinara, to represent the seven principals; There are three red on the left, three green on the right, and a black candle in the center. 

On New Year’s Eve many people celebrate by going out to dinner or parties with their families. Some people eat different types of food to represent good luck in the new year. For example, senior Joseph K.’s family eats black eyed peas and others eat fish to symbolize abundance, noodles for longevity, and rice for fertility and wealth. 

Whether you celebrate many holiday traditions or none at all, the holidays are the perfect time to be with your family and to show your appreciation for everything you are grateful for.

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