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The Best Holiday Family Traditions 2017

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The Best Holiday Family Traditions 2017

Many families have their own unique traditions for the holidays.

Many families have their own unique traditions for the holidays.

Lindsey Bowers

Many families have their own unique traditions for the holidays.

Lindsey Bowers

Lindsey Bowers

Many families have their own unique traditions for the holidays.

Garrett Ferguson, Sentry Staff Reporter

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For those who celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, the month of December is considered a sacred time to celebrate religious tradition with family and friends. It is a time of gift giving and great food and there are even entire radio stations dedicated to holiday music. While it may be true that those who celebrate have the standard Menorah or Christmas tree, every family has their own special holiday traditions.

For junior Beyla Richman, cooking potato pancakes, or latkes, and playing dreidel with her family are some of her favorite parts of Hanukkah – aside from opening gifts of course.

“We play dreidel together and cook food together … homemade [latkes] are so good,” Richman said.

Hanukkah tradition stems from the story about the eight-day miracle, where the Maccabees had enough oil to keep their temple lit for eight nights, despite there only being enough oil for three or four nights. It also remembers the revolution by the Maccabees against the Romans. Hanukkah is also a season of gift giving and, when asked about her favorite gift she has ever received, Richman was quick to respond.

“A dog. It honestly was [such a good gift],” Richman said.

Despite the holiday being eight nights, some nights carry more weight for some families. On the first night of Hanukkah, for example, senior Jack Markowitz and his family celebrate by making potato pancakes and by praying.

“My mom … she’ll make a bunch of latkes for us to eat. It takes a lot of time, and it’s something we don’t get to eat often… we get the whole family together, and there are six people in my family so that’s a pretty rare occasion … we’ll have a big feast and have a bunch of latkes and later that night we will light the candles and say the prayers,” Markowitz said.

There are also numerous games that Jewish children play during Hanukkah, one of the best known being dreidel. There is a song about playing the game which is widely known even outside Jewish families.

“Obviously, there’s dreidel, and I’m sure everyone has heard the song. I have, about 50 different times. I’m a little tired of it but it’s okay … We used to have a bunch of people over and all of the kids would go into a room and play … somebody might lose all of their gelt, but then one of the parents would come in and say to share it equally. Every family has different traditions,” Markowitz said.

While the holiday of Hanukkah may be important to many Jewish people across the nation, Christmas day is a time that most of them look forward to as well. While Richman goes to the movies with her mother to avoid the staggering holiday crowds, Markowitz and his family celebrate a simplified and laid back version of Christmas, because his mother grew up Christian.

“We did once go to Christmas Mass. I think my mother wanted my family to see what it was like. We don’t celebrate it as a religious holiday, but more of a time that we get to spend time together and give gifts to each other … we’ll spend the morning having a big breakfast together … sometimes it takes three or four hours to open gifts because there are six people in the family … and then we have a big feast later in the day,” Markowitz said

“I eat Chinese food and watch movies. Just a typical Jew. We already booked movie tickets for Christmas day,” Richman said.

On the subject of Christmas, what do Christians do to celebrate the important holiday of Jesus’ birth? Sophomore Sydney Knott enjoys the holiday season a lot, and often goes to Christmas Eve service with her family. What she really likes, though, happens the next morning.

“I really like opening my stockings [and gifts] on Christmas [morning],” Knott said.

While she was indecisive at first, she finally settled on her favorite Christmas gift she has ever recieved.

“Probably my computer from my dad,” Knott said.

The novelty and nostalgia of the Christmas season is often the source of many imaginative and extravagant gifts that young children want from Santa Claus. However, many of them feel disappointment after they learn that Saint Nick is just a fairy tale. Knott seemed unperturbed when she replied when she found out that Kris Kringle was a phony.

“I think I was six and I saw my parents wrapping the presents… they didn’t even try to hide it from me,” Knott said.

For many people, the winter break is a time to travel to visit relatives and friends, or even just stay home and celebrate with your family. While staying in Virginia for Christmas would certainly be nice, who could resist the temptation of tropical locales such as Mexico or the Caribbean? For some like Knott, however, traveling during the holidays is a novelty.

“I have never traveled for Christmas, ever, but this year I am going to Florida,” Knott said.

There are so many holiday traditions that people have, from eating latkes and playing dreidel with friends and family to opening presents on Christmas day. Many families also have their own unique traditions, which could include baking and decorating cookies, hanging ornaments on the tree and saying prayers. The spirit of family and community is truly a big part of the holiday season.

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