Various festivities warm winter season

Dylan Mau, Staff Writer

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As the holiday season comes, people all around the world prepare to celebrate in many ways. Little boys and girls will struggle to sleep at night as they wait for the arrival of Santa, but others will prepare in “unusual” ways.
Regardless of whether it is common or not, people tend to celebrate traditions without knowing the origins.
The most widely recognized holiday tradition that could be considered “unusual,” is hiding a pickle in the Christmas tree. Hiding a pickle in the tree is a tradition that has gone on for years. There are several accounts of how it began, but no one knows the exact origin of it. Usually, it is hidden in the tree as a game. The first child to find the pickle gets to open the first gift on Christmas day, according to WhyChristmas.com.
Another tradition is not only setting up a family Christmas tree, but also putting a personal tree in each family member’s room.
“We [have multiple trees] because we enjoy decorating and Christmas is a very important time of the year,” Faye Werner, freshman, said.
The reason people put up Christmas trees goes back thousands of years.
According to History.com, “Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.”
On the other hand, some people have fewer traditions than others, or no tradition at all. Freshman, Paige Rizzo’s family only tradition is to let her “parents sleep until after 8 am.”
Cooking a family meal is one of the most common ways to welcome the Christmas morning. Senior Navia Ornelas’s mom makes her tamales and senior Ellie Butusov makes breakfest with her mom. Senior, Ivii Mikolajczyk’s favorite holiday tradition is Christmas dinner.
And then there are those who spend the whole eve of their cultural holiday tradition celebrating before the big day at church.
“[Our tradition is] reading the most famous biblical passage and going to candlelight service at 11pm. The service ends at 12:01am, which is officially Christmas day,” Werner said.
Christmas is celebrated by 90% of Americans, according to nytimes.com. Over half say that they celebrate it as a religious holiday. It is celebrated as a Christian holiday remembering the birth of Jesus. Many of those who celebrate religiously also give gifts and incorporate Santa.
Although most teenagers no longer believe in Santa Claus, many still celebrate the arrival of the big man in the red suit with their younger siblings, though Santa himself has evolved a lot throughout the years, at least the idea of him has.
“His story stretches all the way back to the 3rd century, when Saint Nicholas walked the earth and became the patron saint of children,” according to History.com. Saint Nicholas was known for his piety and kindness. He dedicated his life to giving away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. Nicholas was the true Santa Claus until much later when Clement Clark Moore’s poem “A Visit from St. Nick,” commonly known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas” written in 1822 describes Santa as jolly and plump, traveling by reindeer pulling a sleigh and coming down a chimney.
Coco-Cola later created the brand that young children now know as Santa Claus. According to coca-colacompany.com, “Coca-Cola helped shape the image of Santa.” The famous beverage company would advertise a strict image of Santa Claus, wearing a red suit with white trim, similar to their logo of red and white.
“My parents still label my gifts from Santa,” Gianna Camardo, freshman said. She also has an elf on the shelf that her parents move for her little brother.
Hanukkah is another widely celebrated holiday. It lasts for eight days.
“We have something called the festival of lights; for eight days we light up each candle and each candle represents the belief in God,” Tyler Brown, sophomore said.
For the dinner celebration of Hannukah, Brown’s family eats ice cream filled donuts, loads of brisket, and potato pancakes. He goes back to Israel every year for the holiday.
Judy Link, geometry teacher, has celebrated Hanukkah since she was little. Now, she celebrates with her husband and kids. They light a candle on the menorah on each night of the eight-day celebration.
“We light the menorah to remember the miracle that after the Jews led by Judah the Maccabee defeated the Greeks they reclaimed the Holy Temple by going to light the Temples Menorah (which is a seven-branched candelabrum)  They only had enough olive oil for one day,” Link said.
Hannukah is important to Link because she enjoys seeing her family. It reminds her of two things: “Never forget to stand up for what is right even if the odds are against you and little little oil (light) can go a long way. The holiday is about miracles.”
Kwanza is another holiday, that is not as commonly celebrated in the United States, according to Monique Armistead, special ed teacher. The holiday lasts for six days, starting on December 26th, according to theholidayspot.com.
“The Karamu is the special dinner Africans celebrate on December 31st,” Armistead said.
The candle that is associated with Kwanza is called the Kinara. The Kinara as six candles because Kwanza is six nights and seven days.
Marissa Charleston, special ed teacher, had “friends in elementary school that celebrated Kwanza” and Armistead had “friends in college that celebrated.” Charleston now celebrates Christmas with her family. Armistead enjoys spending time with her family, without celebrating any particular holiday. Both of them run African American Club and talked about Kwanza at the December meeting.
This holiday season people can choose to celebrate whatever tradition they want, and now they can benefit from knowing why.