The Voice

More Than Just Christmas

Nicole Morgan, Sports Editor

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It’s December, and we all know what that means. The holiday season is right around the corner, and it seems impossible to escape the snowflake decorations, blow-up snowmen and Santa-themed everything.

But in the midst of this Christmas overload, other winter holidays sometimes get swept under the rug. Many girls here at Pres celebrate holiday traditions that do not include the birth of Jesus or a jolly old man in a red suit. Though Presentation is a Catholic school, Pres girls come from many different religious beliefs and traditions, and it is important to honor their traditions as well.

During the holiday season, there is much more to be joyful for than just the birth of Jesus. Jewish people commemorate their ancestors’ return to Jerusalem. The Hindu religion celebrates the Winter Harvest, hoping for a fruitful crop. Though they do not celebrate a specific winter holiday, the religion of Islam often celebrates Ramadan in December when it coincides with the lunar calendar.

In the Jewish tradition, there are eight days of Hanukkah to symbolize the eight days that a candle remained lit in the Temple. During these eight days, Jewish people commemorate this  with gift giving and the lighting of eight candles on the Menorah.

People who practice Hinduism celebrate the  Sankranti and Baisakhi festivals during the winter months. During the Sankranti festival, people make sweets out of sesame to  provide heat to the body and fly kites in the “winter winds”. The Baisakhi festival celebrates the winter harvest of wheat.

The focus on Christmas and Pres’ emphasis on the importance of the birth of Jesus can sometimes make oher holidays seem less important, but Pres girls who practice faiths other than Christianity have learned to be confident in their own beliefs.

Junior Ilara Yilmaz continues to stay firm in her own faith, even during the Christmas craziness. “I don’t really feel like [the emphasis on Christmas] has that much of an impact because I know I’m Muslim and I know nothing will change who I am. But, sometimes, people don’t remember to take into account other religions.”

Over “Christmas” break, it can be difficult for those who do not celebrate it to keep themselves occupied. For senior Shaina Greenberg, it has always been hard to find friends to hang out with. “It is kinda hard when everyone is making extravagant plans for Christmas and going on vacation to celebrate, so I end up hanging out with my mom a lot.”

Though these religions differ from the Christian faith, the secular version of Christmas has permeated into almost every culture. Junior Natasha Aji still  celebrates a secular Christmas with her family, even though they practice Hinduism. “We still celebrate Christmas just because everyone does, and everyone likes to get presents! Also, I chose to go to a Catholic school, so I knew I was going to be exposed to Christian holidays.”

Like Aji, Greenberg’s family have their own secular Christmas traditions. “Jewish people, including my family,  always get Chinese food on Christmas because it is always the only place that is open. Trust me, if you see anyone walking around on Christmas, they are probably Jewish, and they are probably trying to find a Chinese food place.”

Pres girls come from all different faith traditions, and they can all agree that the holiday season can be one of the best times of the year, and it is important to honor and observe the holidays of all of our students.

 

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