A Glimpse at Cultural Celebrations


Sofia Hazaña

(Left to right: Santos Virasoro, Nicolas Bruno, Felipe Virasoro, Fran Gaing) The boys decide to take a break from dancing and celebrating Christmas to take a picture outside.

Every culture has different holidays and celebrations that may not be known everywhere around the world.

Sophomore Jeanie Koepsell shares the holidays she celebrated in Africa. On June 1st, Children’s Day takes place.

All of the kids dress up nicely and go to school with food for their classmates. Instead of learning, the children share poems throughout the day and eat food. This is a day to thank the teachers for all they do for their students.

“For you guys it’s Halloween, but it’s different for us; we dress up nicely and the parents buy us new clothes,” Koepsell explains. “We come back home with a full belly and you don’t have any desires of eating afterwards.”

This is her favorite holiday to celebrate with family and friends. For events like these, they usually have beans, rice, and wild chicken.

We have shima, also known as fufu; which is like mashed potatoes, but with corn instead.”

— Jeanie Koepsell

Another holiday is Ramadan, which takes place on the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. The month is not dissimilar to Catholic Lent, where members of the faith fast between daybreak and dusk. However, Ramadan celebrates the first revelation of the Qur’an, the Islamic holy book. After they have finished fasting for the month, they celebrate Eid.

Once the fasting is over, a big dinner is held with family and sometimes friends. Children either receive money, food, or cheese–which is like a piece of cake.

Freshman Nate Mergler celebrates Hanukkah at this time of the year. He says he loves the food more than anything. He celebrates Hanukkah because his dad’s side of the family is Jewish. Everyone celebrates it in his family except for his grandparents on his mom’s side because they are Christian.

He says that he knows enough about his holiday to know why he is celebrating it, but he wants to learn a bit more.

He does not have any special traditions – he just lights the menorah with his family, opens presents, and eats good food. The “good food” is all fried, and one of the main dishes are the potato pancakes, commonly known as latkes.

Junior Nicolas Bruno celebrates Christmas like a lot of people, except with a special twist. His family is from Argentina, so they go back each year to meet with family during the holidays, and because Argentina is in the southern hemisphere, it is summer over there when it is winter over in the States.

In Argentina, Christmas is very similar to the Fourth of July in America: people shoot fireworks and get together with family and friends.

The night starts off with most of the family going to Catholic mass, and after everyone is back home, they set the table outside and sit down to eat. After a delicious dinner of pork, chicken, lots of salad and desserts, the teenagers go off and shoot fireworks, while the adults finish cleaning up the table and head over to where the all the fun is.

An adult will stay inside, close all the curtains, and set up the presents around the tree. At midnight, they ring a bell, which the younger children think is Santa Claus. Everyone runs inside to open presents.

After the presents are opened some people head home and others stay the night. It is always a nice way to end the day.

Sophomore Alexandra Thorpe comes from a huge family that not only celebrates Christmas, but Hanukkah and Russian New Year too. This means that the typical “holiday season” is not so typical in their house.

Hanukkah is an eight day long Jewish holiday that celebrates the Maccabees winning the war and therefore reasserting Judaism as a religion. Hanukkah is a family time that the Thorpe family looks forward to every year.

“My favorite part of Hanukkah is lighting the candles on the Menorah,” said Thorpe. “Eight candles for eight days–someone different gets to light one each day.”

During the holiday, they eat latkes, and fish as the main meal. And for dinner Yulia Thorpe, her mother, will hide Galt, which are chocolate coins, around the house as a fun game for the kids to play. Each day, every family member even receives a small gift to celebrate the fun family time.

After Hanukkah and Christmas comes Russian New Year. Russian New Year falls on regular New Year, but celebrates something a little different.

Russian New Year is basically Russian Christmas, says Thorpe. Sometime in history, Russians were not able to celebrate Christmas on Christmas, so they created their own.

“It’s just like ordinary Christmas,” said Thorpe.

“Instead of Santa Claus we have Father Frost to put our gifts under the tree.””

— Yulia Thorpe

They eat traditional Russian food that consists of a lot of bread, cheese, and meat-pies, and on top of all of that, they still have left-overs to eat from Christmas and Hanukkah.

The holidays are a busy time for any family, however in terms of things to do, the Thorpe family takes the cake.



Yulia Thorpe
Alexandra Thorpe’s brother, Jacob Thorpe, is lighting the menorah on the second night of Hanukkah.