Viking Saga

Cultures Unite For Holiday Excitement

Vikings share their traditions in excitement of the holiday season

Ruby McMahon

The smell of traditional food baking. Festive clothing. The excitement of holiday spirit. From Diwali, to Hanukkah, to Christmas, people are eager for the comfort of their holiday favorites more than ever.
“A staple of my childhood was going to my Greek grandmother’s house and walking in to the smell of the bread. It made holidays magical,” said junior Sophia Gannoe. According to Gannoe, her grandmother makes bread for the family during Christmas, and inside of it, she puts a coin to represent good luck into the new year. Along with the coin bread, her family has recently started a new tradition called monkey bread that
sparks the morning festivities. “On Thanksgiving and Christmas, my family makes monkey bread. It’s just Pillsbury bread with cinnamon and sugar, but it’s super special since we only have it twice a year.”

Most of the fun part of Christmas is the anticipation- from the countdown, to the decorations, the holiday is
very sentimental. Diwali has similar anticipation built up too. This year, Diwali was on Nov. 14. Sophomore Nikhita Bolenini’s holiday season looks a little different than Christmas. She and her family celebrate the holiday Diwali: the Festival of Lights. It is celebrated by millions of people in India each year and is filled
with beautiful customs and traditions. “In the morning, I get dressed in the special clothing, and during the day, we pray in the temple in my house. If we aren’t busy, the kids help out by making the food with the parents. One of my favorites is ‘Gobi Manchurian’,” said Bolenini. Gobi Manchurian is an Indian-Chinese dish that consists of a fried cauliflower dish that is famously eaten in Indian-Chinese cuisine.
For Bolenini, Diwali starts off as a normal day but becomes one full of spirituality. At night, around 200
friends and families meet to celebrate, dance, and worship. “Everyone meets at around six for the puja. It’s really fun to dance with people, do fireworks, and share delicious Indian sweets with each other. It’s a very big deal for India because it is one of the only holidays that most people from there celebrate,” said Bolenini. Unfortunately, since the nation is amidst the coronavirus pandemic, Indian-Americans were not able to celebrate at the usual capacity for safety reasons.

Hanukkah is also known for lights, but in this case, it’s the eight days of candlelight. Sophomore Daniella Regan says that Hanukkah “really helps [her] to connect with [her] religion.” “During Hanukkah, my family goes over to my godmother’s house where we pray and celebrate together. My dad and I don’t practice Judaism very often, so it’s really nice to celebrate religion,” Regan said. While she is there, Regan eats salmon, brisket, and kugel, along with other special food items. As they sit and eat at the table, Regan and her family pray. At home too, Regan has traditions with her parents, such as making homemade cranberry sauce. “My dad and I make cranberry sauce for Hanukkah. When I was little, I would get jobs like stirring, or washing the berries, or cutting the lemon. The funny thing is, our family doesn’t have a set recipe. It’s always just a little bit different each year.” According to Regan, it’s the small moments during the holidays that hold sentimental value, like the slight difference in the cranberry sauce, which makes each year special.
This year is unique since many people cannot see extended relatives for the holiday season. To keep the holiday cheer, people are remembering the positive memories and all of the traditions that can still happen now. “Spending time with my family, getting gifts for my friends, and the connection that the holidays bring is what I am most excited about,” said Regan.

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