Holiday Traditions Embraced at TJ

Farhin Hossain, Writer

At this time of the year, the weather is cold yet the spirits are high, as people get into full swing for the holidays! People celebrate holidays ranging from Christmas, to Kwanzaa, to Hanukkah. These holidays, while celebrated by many, have different traditions in how they are celebrated. To get into the “holiday spirit”, many people have traditions throughout the holidays to prepare for the festivity. Such traditions can include decorating a Christmas tree, building gingerbread houses, lighting the Menorah, playing the dreidel, and even honoring ancestors.

Kwanzaa is one of the most celebrated holidays during the holiday season. It is a holiday that honors African heritage in African-American culture. Kwanzaa is observed from December 26th to January 1st during the southern solstice, culminating in a communal gift giving and a big feast. Kwanzaa, like many holidays, are celebrated through traditions. Traditions such as lighting the candles, reflecting on the principle of the holiday itself, and preparing and sharing food. People feast every day to savor the blessings of the harvest and to strengthen family or community bonds. Kwanzaa is also celebrated through honoring ancestors, and sharing your talents. The sixth day of Kwanzaa draws attention to the idea of creativity (Kuumba). The community showcases exhibitions of dance, poetry, and live African drumming.

Hanukkah is another holiday celebrated through the December month. From December 18th to December 26th (2022), the eight day holiday commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, after Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. Hanukkah is celebrated through many ritualistic traditions, such as lighting the menorah, one light per night from right to left, playing the dreidel, giving gifts- like Hanukkah Gelt, or money, and even eating special holiday foods like latkes and sufganiyot. Latkes are a sort of potato pancake, whereas sufganiyot are pillowy doughnuts filled with jam or custard.

First called the Feast of the Nativity, the Roman and Pagan originated holiday, Christmas is the most widely spread holiday celebrated every year. Christmas is the day where many commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. During the Christmas season, many families share similar traditions. Events like setting up a Christmas tree, placing the star on top, hanging the mistletoe, exchanging gifts on Christmas morning, baking cookies and making gingerbread houses, leaving Santa cookies and milk before his arrival, and even drinking eggnog.

Many different holidays celebrated during the holiday season entail different traditions, and can even differ further based upon culture. TJ is one of, if not the most, diverse schools in Frederick. This being said, many students and staff celebrate holidays very differently, and have many different traditions that they do.

When interviewed about the holidays they celebrate, and which traditions they follow, Aiden Crutchley states, “We have a movie styled Christmas. We put up the Christmas tree with the star on top, decorate…It’s a time for the gift of giving gifts and appreciating Christmas. It’s what we do. It’s a time for families to gather, and enjoy the reunion.”
Paul Orejimi states, “We go out of town to a family member’s house, and there is a Christmas tree wherever we go. We celebrate Jesus being born on Christmas day…wait for everyone to wake up and open presents. We also cook a lot.”

Nico Truini says, “The day after Thanksgiving, we put up a nine foot tree and decorate it with ornaments that each have a sentimental value. Each ornament has a story behind it, and before it’s placed on the tree, the story behind it is told.” All students of diverse backgrounds might celebrate the same holidays, but many celebrate them in various ways that date back from years ago. These traditions are celebrated every year, and for many years to come. How do you celebrate the holiday season?