Our student body is filled with scholars of many different backgrounds, each of whom carries with them different ideas of what the winter holiday season truly represents. But what are the holidays that are celebrated by the student body? We set out to find the answer by creating a survey asking students a wide variety of questions to get to the bottom of their thoughts on the holiday season. The survey received 96 total responses from students and staff members regarding their December traditions and what they enjoy about the holidays.
In the survey, which was sent out to the entire student body by teachers during PASS periods, 96.8 percent of respondents indicated that they celebrate Christmas, 76.6 percent New Year’s, 7.4 percent Hanukkah and the Winter Solstice, 3.2 percent St. Lucia Day and Epiphany and only 1.1 percent Kwanzaa. This shows that our student body is extremely diverse in the ways that they celebrate the winter holidays.
According to the survey, most of the Terrace community that celebrates Christmas commemorates the holiday by visiting family and friends, baking holiday dishes, decorating the surroundings with a festive spirit and exchanging gifts between friends and family. It is common for families to organize a special meal. Children especially look forward to receiving gifts from the mythical character known as Santa Claus.
While Christmas may be the most popular of the celebrated holidays shown from survey responses, that does not mean people in the Terrace community don’t celebrate many other December holidays. Many people who responded saying they celebrate Christmas also celebrate New Year’s. Seth Meyers, a freshman here at MTHS, celebrates Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s during his break.
“Having a lot of free time to spend with family and friends [is my favorite aspect of the December holidays],” Meyers said in response to the survey.
The results also revealed that 7.4 percent of the participants celebrate Hanukkah, which is an annual Jewish holiday commemorated this year between December 22 and December 30, overlapping with the Christmas celebrations. It is an eight day celebration that revolves around the kindling of an eight branched menorah with one helper candle in the middle. One candle is lit every day over each of the eight days.
Other Hanukkah customs include playing with a four sided top called a dreidel and exchanging gifts on each night when a candle is lit. Grace Kavanah who is a paraeducator here at Terrace said she celebrates Hanukkah by spending time with her family and friends.
“Sitting together in our living room and talking with one another about our many blessings: practicing Hakarat HaTov or ‘recognizing the good’ in our lives,” Kavanah said when asked about her other Hanukkah traditions.
Kavanah’s favorite gift that she has ever received was original artwork given to her by her son during a past holiday season.
Although we all celebrate the holidays in different ways and possess distinct ideas concerning their representation, there is one common theme between all of us. We all aim to spend our holiday break surrounded by our loved ones. This commonality demonstrates how fostering connections between people is perhaps the most significant outcome of the holidays each year.
Our two week break gives us the opportunity to reconnect with our loved ones and to feast on our favorite holiday dishes. It gives us a chance to give and receive meaningful gifts. More importantly for the academic side of things, the two week holiday vacation is also an essential time to recuperate and prepare for the final portion of the semester. Overall, the holidays is a crucial part of the school year, and of our family lives and personal connections