Holiday Traditions

Amanda Ferris, Staff Writer

Christmas and Hanukkah are religious holidays that people celebrate in December. Christmas is a time to honor the birth of Jesus and spread joy for the day he came into the world on December 25th. Those who are part of the Christian church and honor Christmas go to church on Christmas Eve or day; the term Christmas is also known as Christ’s Mass.  On the other hand, Hanukkah is a longer holiday, dating back to the the second century B.C.E, because the oil in the candle was supposed to burn for a day but there was a miracle and it burned for eight days. Those who memorialize Hanukkah own a menorah.  They light candles each night and recite the blessings to God and their Jewish ancestors. Here at Trottier we all believe different things, but what fascinates me is all the different ways people celebrate their beliefs. Many people participate in different traditions that make their holidays special. Below are just a few traditions of some of the members of our community.

Mrs. Morris – 7th & 8th grade literacy teacher

Trees, cookies, and holiday movies are parts of Mrs. Morris’s house every year. Mrs. Morris and her family celebrate Christmas. Her family spreads the joy by buying a tree after Thanksgiving and stringing it with lights bulbs and a big star on top. Mrs. Morris has some traditions that she and her family do every year to fill their holidays with cheer. For example, they put out a Lego Advent calendar.  There are small bags filled with Lego bricks for each day leading up to Christmas.  The Lego bricks form objects and people to make a Christmas scene.  To decorate her house, she puts out a ceramic Christmas village around the room.  She and her family go shopping for Christmas presents to wrap and put under the tree. Black Friday shopping is a favorite tradition.  She shops with her mom, and now her kids love to tag along to do their own holiday shopping.  She participates in a secret stocking with her husband’s side of the family.  They draw a family name from a hat.  She then has to buy and pack a stocking full of gifts.   As it gets closer to Christmas, her family bakes tons of cookies and watches many of the classic Christmas movies. This year, she enjoyed a day of baking with Mrs. Montague and her daughter.  Mrs. Morris spends Christmas Eve in Connecticut with her side of the family.  They enjoy a family dinner and open presents.  Finally when Christmas comes, the Morrises open all the presents under their own tree. Once they have opened all the presents, Mrs. Morris prepares for their other relatives to come over for Christmas dinner.  Sometimes they go to her sister-in-law’s house to celebrate.  When New Year’s Eve comes around, the Morris family hosts a New Year’s Eve party for their friends.  Mrs. Morris’s holiday season is full of entertaining and spending time with family and friends.

Mrs. George – 7th grade instructional aide

Mrs. George celebrates Christmas. Every Christmas Eve, Mrs. George and her family go to Wayside Inn for lunch, but this year, her husband and son went to Gillette to watch the Patriots’ game. They spend the afternoon finishing up with last minute wrapping  and watching It’s a Wonderful Life.  Yearly on Christmas Eve, her family goes to a Christmas party. After the Christmas party, they make their way down to church or Christmas mass for the candle light service.  They usually light the candles while singing Silent Night.   After a long day, Mrs. George and her family go home and put on the PJs that Santa left out for them. In the morning, they make waffles with strawberries and rip open the presents under the tree. Then everyone goes and plays outside in the snow.  After a nice day spent with family, they sit down and relax to the movie Christmas Vacation.

Mrs. Souaibou – 8th grade science teacher

Mrs. Souaibou celebrates Christmas, Hannukah, and for the first time this year,  Kwanzaa.  Kwanzaa is an African American holiday created to honor the heritage of the African Americans. Mrs. Souaibou has decided to make new traditions this year and learn more about Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa lasts 7 days, which begins on December 26th. Since this is the first year she and her family are celebrating Kwanzaa, Mrs. Souaibou has to go to the library and read books to find out the traditional way to celebrate it. Mrs. Souaibou decorates her house with lights in honor of Christmas, a Menorah for Hanukkah, and a Kinara for Kwanzaa. Kinaras hold candles with specific colors, red and green, and represent African American roots.  She gets her many different cultures from her family.  Her mom is Catholic, her stepfather is Jewish, and her husband is African.

Each day of Kwanzaa has a different theme.  Theme one of seven is Umoja, which is “The importance togetherness for your family and for the community.”   The second is Kujichagulia, which is self determination.  The third is Ujima, which means collective work and responsibility. The fourth is Ujamaa which represents cooperative economics.  The fifth is Nia, which means purpose.  The sixth is Kuumba which is creativity, and the seventh is Imani, which is faith. After the 7 days go by, her family has a big feast. They also get cultural clothing sent over to them from Cameroon.

To enjoy Hannukah, they play a puzzle game where each person gets a puzzle and whoever finishes the puzzle first wins. They also play the dreidel game.

On Christmas Eve, her relatives gather to eat a big feast with turkey, roast chicken, brisket, and kugel. Then on Christmas day, her family opens up all the presents in front of the television.  Mrs. Souaibou’s holiday season is full with a variety of traditions.

My Traditions

Every year, my dad takes me and my sister out of school on December 23rd, the day before Christmas Eve.  He takes us to Fitchburg to get seafood for our traditional Christmas Eve casserole.  We buy lobster and clams and shrimp. On Christmas Eve, my family goes to church to thank God and celebrate his upcoming birthday. After my family goes to church, my parents make the seafood casserole, and my sister, Rachel, and I make the chocolate chip and sugar cookies for Santa. Once the cooking is done, we all settle down to a traditional Christmas movie that we watch every single year, It’s A Wonderful Life. At the end of a long day, we open one christmas present each.  My sister and I usually get fuzzy PJ’s. In the morning on Christmas day, my sister and I wake up really early and sprint into my parents’ room and scream at them to wake them up. We all then head down stairs and open all of our presents. After that, we go to my aunt’s house and eat food and play games and open more presents. I love the traditions we do every year.

I learned a lot from my interviews with the teachers at Trottier. I found it so interesting the way people prepare for and celebrate their holidays in many different ways.  Christmas, Hanukkah, and a holiday that I just learned about for the first time, Kwanzaa, are all very important holidays that are celebrated with many traditions. If there are any traditions or holidays that you have and would like to share with readers, then please feel free to leave them in comment section below.