Assorted holiday traditions showcased in student body


Giselle Carrion and her family together at one of their annual Ecuadorian holiday parties. (Photo Courtesy of Giselle Carrion)

By Ella Dame

For Giselle Carrion, Div. 364, Christmas and New Year’s is not exactly how it is depicted in popular Christmas movies like “Home Alone” or “The Santa Clause.” 

Carrion’s family Christmas begins at midnight.

“When I was a little, they would have us take little naps to wait until midnight,” Carrion said. “There were a lot of just fun parties and my parents always have people over at our house.” 

Carrion said many of her traditions can be traced back to her family’s Ecuadorian and Brazilian roots, and while some of her family traditions may have become Americanized, they still belong to her.

Alex Hensel, Div. 051, shares Carrion’s sentiments that celebrating the holidays does not necessarily mean the same thing for everyone. 

Hensel said he celebrates Christmas on Dec. 25, as well as Saint Lucia Day.  

My family is Swedish-German, so we celebrate Saint Lucia Day, which is when the oldest girl in the household gets up and cooks breakfast for everyone,” Hensel said.

The biggest drawback to both Hensel and Carrion’s holiday season is that one thing is missing from it: their families. 

“What’s hard about it is that my mom wants to see most of them, but usually they’re in Ecuador or Brazil,” Carrion said. “It’s kinda sad because I know they grew up with them and they want to celebrate with them, but we can’t.”

Although their family may not be physically there, this does not stop the Hensel family from being connected during the holidays. 

We FaceTime a lot to make sure nobody is left out. My family lives all across the Northern USA, so we have a portal thing to do calls with them,” Hensel said.

FaceTime calls allow her to talk to her cousins, catch up on school life and just say “hi” to family members, Carrion said. While FaceTime calls can help keep her family in touch with far-away family, Carrion said, they are not the only way one can stay connected with family. Celebrating traditions her Ecuadorian family taught her makes her feel connected to them as well. 

“My grandparents often cook certain foods on Christmas and New Year’s. So, I usually hear about, on Christmas, families having like turkey and ham but we get more like guinea pig and fritada,” Carrion said.

Gabryjela Kipa, Div. 358, and her family celebrate Christmas by observing their own unique traditions every year. Kipa celebrates Christmas Eve by listening to Bible verses read aloud after seeing the first star in the sky.

In a survey conducted via Google Form in the Daily General Student Email over 50% of respondents indicated that even if a student cannot physically be with their family, it is not hard to still have a positive holiday season. 

For Kipa, this means following her family’s Polish traditions during the holidays.

“We grab a thin wafer and go to each person and say what you wish that person luck in while you they tear your wafer to little pieces and eat them,” Kipa said. “The wafer makes it special because in the Polish culture, there has to be a wafer so everyone will have good luck in the next year.”