The approach of winter break has many students excited for the holiday season, during which they partake in a variety of traditions. “I think it’s really important to have traditions.” said sophomore Lia Lev. “Just getting together and doing something every year gives you something to assign meaning to.”
For Lev’s family, a fun tradition is marathoning the Lord of the Rings movies. “We always take a break on Christmas Day to marathon it. It’s always good relaxation,” she said. Sophomore Sam Goldman also has a tradition of marathoning popular movies. He said, “I always stay up for New Years and have a Twilight Zone marathon.”
Goldman also said, “I visit my grandparents over winter break.” For many students around M-A, visiting family is an important part of the holidays. Sophomore Christopher Carranza Vega said, “Spending time with each other during the holidays is really important for my family, especially during Christmas. We cook a lot of food, we bring the family together, we eat at the table, and sometimes we play games.”
For students whose families live far away, celebrating the holidays together is a bit tougher. “All my family lives on the East Coast and in Israel,” said Lev. “So we don’t really see them, but we FaceTime. It’s nice, and a fun thing I can do with my family, because we’re not usually super close.” Senior Eden Fisher shared a similar experience, and said, “I usually make cookies with my dad’s side of the family for Christmas. Since we don’t have those family gatherings often, doing this brings us together.”
Freshman Natalie Lopez’s family has a unique Christmas gathering tradition. She said, “We usually make this bread that has little angels inside. If you get one of the angels in your piece, you have to throw a party.” This tradition has been in her family for as long as she can remember. “I don’t know where it comes from,” said Lopez. “We just always do it.”
Some families celebrate the holidays with very well-known traditions. Senior Dafne Segura goes to see the snow every year in Tahoe, and junior Nat Barman’s family celebrates by decorating a Christmas tree and baking holiday cookies. “I really like being able to sample my food whenever I want,” said Barman.
In sophomore Isabel Matta’s family, some of her traditions are derived from her family’s culture. She said, “My dad is Peruvian, so we always open one present on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas Day. It’s something they do in Peru, so we do it too.” Barman’s family also has traditions regarding the order of opening presents. “We always open our stockings before anything else.”
Lev also celebrates Hanukkah, for which her family makes traditional Jewish foods every year. “We always make latkes and a kind of jewish jelly donut.” The jelly donut is called sufganiyot, though Lev’s family always modifies the recipe by using mochi flour.
Sophomore Bethany Hyde’s traditions are rooted in Polish culture. “I bake a type of traditional Polish Christmas cookie with my father.” The cookie in question is called Kruschicki, and is made of an egg yolk-based dough covered in powdered sugar. To Hyde, keeping cultural traditions alive is important. “It’s the only Polish recipe left in my family,” said Hyde. “So we make it every holiday season.”
M-A students have a diverse assortment of holiday traditions, each of which helps to make the holiday season a bit brighter. Lev reflected on the impact of traditions, concluding,“I guess my traditions just help me feel like I belong somewhere.”