Favorite Holiday Traditions Shared by Harrisites

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Regardless of the occasion, many families have their own holiday customs. Traditions, whether new or ancient, appear to hold a special place in our hearts.  We keep these traditions alive because they bring meaning to a holiday and help us connect with those we care about. The Classic interviewed Harrisities about their holiday traditions.

Sophomore Maria Patino said that her family is Catholic, and so her holiday rituals take place during the week after Christmas and involve the establishment of a crèche. “A crèche is a reenactment that is a reproduction of the site of Jesus Christ’s birth,” Maria said. “We spend the first Sunday following Christmas with my family. It is performed with a feast, honoring life and making great wishes for the next year.” 

Similarly, junior Jay Smith celebrates Christmas by going to church in the morning and ending the evening strong with a delectable Christmas feast. Jay’s family usually hosts a Christmas party, an event for all of the members of his family to gather and have a good time. 

Some Harrisities’ traditions are more straightforward and laid back. “Before New Years, my friends and I generally spend a day together binge watching movies, watching Kdramas, and baking cookies,” junior Vivian Chen said. This is also the case for many other Harrisites who celebrate the New Years by watching the iconic Times Square Ball Drop from the comfort of their homes with their families.

Other Harrisites like to celebrate the New Year with a little more thrill and excitement. Senior Alex Cho actually goes out to Times Square to see the ball drop live every year, despite the cold weather. He doesn’t celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, so getting to see the ball drop yearly is what he looks forward to over the break. 

New Year observances are some of the more unique, as the Gregorian New Year is celebrated in tandem with other cultures’ New Year celebrations. Specific traditions, such as eating 12 grapes, wearing yellow underwear, or not sweeping for a day (Colombian and Vietnamese, respectively), are kept and combined with other, newer traditions that came with the advent of media and technology, like watching the ball drop in Times Square

Sophomore Vivian Oksenhandler told us about her New Year’s celebration, “I just hang out with my home friends. Always someone ends up crying because of the New Year.” Spending time with those we love, entering the new year surrounded by the most important people in our lives, or the most important in that moment, carries the joy and catharsis into the coming months. Vivian said that she spends the majority of the time with her loved ones, and added, “My family and I do candle lighting ceremonies for the eight nights of Hanukkah; additionally, for Christmas break, we all go skiing.”

Sophomore Emily Carson also recognizes the value in personal quality time with family over the holidays. She said that, while she isn’t doing anything too out of the ordinary for Christmas or New Years, she enjoys “just decorating the tree with my family and celebrating the first of January with everyone..” 

For many, the end of the old year brings sadness along with excitement for what is to come.  It can be helpful for many observers to have tangible goals and aspirations. Junior Christina Watkins said that her family “says a really long prayer, led by my mom or my grandma, and we just set our intentions for what we want to do and what we hope for the New Year.”

Despite the liveliness of indulging in all these traditions, some Harrisites just want to use this holiday break to relax, take a break from the exhaustion of school, and be with family. Sophomore Apurbo Haider said, “I enjoy the holiday seasons simply by sleeping in and enjoying the time away from school. These past weeks especially have been so stressful with school that honestly I just needed this break to come sooner.” Senior Jack Walsh also stated that he simply looks forward to the break just to be able to spend time with his family. 

It is evident that there are a great variety of holiday traditions that exist among the students at our school. Harrisites celebrate the holidays in different ways, but nevertheless, the one thing that unites all their traditions is that, despite what they’re doing, they are having fun doing it.

Photo by Adam Sayah