The Winter Break for Different Religions

The winter break is coming up, and many people with be celebrating a holiday or spending time with their family and friends. Families of different religions will have their own ways to spend the long break, not all necessarily celebrating any sort of festivity.

Safaa Elhashash, sophomore, and her family identify with Islam as her religion. During the holiday break, Elhashash will spend her free time without celebrations and ceremonies, since Christmas is not an Islamic festivity.

“Most of the school population celebrates Christmas, but us Muslims do not. We just chill out around the house and go out and hang out like normal. My friends are really accepting towards me being a different religion,” said Elhashash.

The lack of celebrations, however, does not mean that the holiday break won’t be important. Without the stress of school or work, Elhashash and her family are able to spend quality family time together. This family time being her favorite part of her winter break.

“It is way more uneventful than other people’s because we aren’t bringing family into the house, decorating the house or any of that stuff. I get to see my parents more, while during the regular school days and weeks, I don’t get to hang out with them as much,” stated Elhashash.

Gracie Howard, senior, comes from a Jewish family. Her holiday break allows her to fully celebrate Hanukkah and practice Jewish traditions for a little over a week.

“For Jewish people that celebrate Hanukkah, it is an eight-day holiday, so for eight days we light candles. The festivities last longer than someone who would celebrate Christmas,” said Howard

Howard has warm feelings towards this holiday, because of what it has to offer. The family tradition that brings everyone together at the end of the year is something that she looks forward to.

“Hanukkah is actually my favorite Jewish holiday because, not only can I eat my favorite Jewish food that my mom makes, but I get to celebrate the history of the Jewish people. My favorite thing about Hanukkah is either lighting the candles and saying the prayers with my family, or making latkes with my mom,” stated Howard.

Another way she celebrates the holiday is with a holiday celebration that her family hosts. She sees it as a good way to clear up misconceptions and teach others about Hanukkah and the Jewish religion.

“Every year we have a Hanukkah party at my house. It’s a cool way to share the traditions and the warmth with other people as well as educate them about what Judaism is because a lot of people don’t know,” said Howard.

Drew Thompson, junior, identifies as Christian, and sees Christmas as a celebration of Jesus’ birth. With those celebrations come the bringing together of family and the joy of all being together.

“Christmas was the day that Jesus was born, and God sent his one and only child down to be born from the Virgin Mary. I like the feeling that my whole family is together and that we are not missing anybody, it’s just good bonding time,” said Thompson.

In Thompson’s household, they tend to avoid extravagant holiday decorations. The holiday focus is more of the religious side, reflecting his spiritual beliefs as well as his families.

“We don’t go all out with Christmas decorations, like Christmas lights. We just have the tree, and sometimes we call it a “Jesus Tree” because we don’t really put ornaments on it,” stated Thompson.

This holiday break will be an opportunity for people of many different religions and beliefs to take time away from school and focus their energy on things other than classes and exams, and also spend time with family and friends.