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Menorahs, jingle bells and snow: Students celebrate Winter Break in their own style

When students finally get to trek home after a series of finals-induced heart attacks, not everyone’s trip includes jamming out to Michael Bublé. For some, break means sleeping and petting your dog. For others, break is a chance to celebrate holidays with family. Who needs Geisert’s salad bar, anyway, when students have plans like this? 


Jared Vergotine, Jewish, freshman economics major


What are some misconceptions about Hanukkah?

“One of the common misconceptions is that we get a present every day. That’s not the case … In my family, there’s usually the one major gift, and then pajamas and then something else that I want. There didn’t used to be gift giving on Hanukkah until it was given on Christmas, and then whoever the genius Jewish parent saw that and was like, ‘Ooh, assimilation.’ Props to them.”


What are some traditions that you celebrate?

“It’s traditional to eat a lot of food that incorporates a lot of oil. So we eat latkes, jelly donuts called ‘sufganiyot,’ we play dreidel, have gelt [which are] chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil, [and go to] services. Usually, you go on the first night and whenever Shabbat service is that year.”



Haleemah Na’Allah, Muslim, freshman political science and philosophy double major


Are you planning on doing anything holiday related over winter break?

“No. Our two holidays [called Eid] change what time [of the year] they are according to the Lunar Calendar. One fell in June, another around Labor Day. There is a big prayer at the beginning of the day. Afterwards, you have a huge brunch.We have a month called ‘Ramadan,’ and we fast for a month. Every day, we don’t eat from [dawn until sunset].”


Has the way you celebrate Eid changed throughout your life?

“When I was younger I lived in Springfield, and we had this tradition where all the young kids would go around to all the adults, and we’d be like, ‘Happy Eid,’ and they’d give us all money. You’d come home with $50, and you thought that you were rich.”



Emily Banwart, Christian, senior elementary education major


What are some favorite childhood memories of the holidays?

“My dad would [always] put up a huge wall of wrapping paper covering the door of whatever room had gifts in it. My parents always print out the meaning of Christmas, and we take turns reading different sections of the piece of paper. One year, when my youngest brother was smaller, after we read through the little sheet of paper we used him as a battering ram to go through the wall of wrapping paper.”


Do you have any traditions that you do with your family?

“On Christmas morning we have a treasure hunt that can last anywhere from an hour to three. There are Christmas mornings where we don’t open up our presents until three or four in the afternoon just because it takes us so long, and the ending point is opening gifts.”


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