12 Days Of Manual: Holiday traditions


Maya Joshi

The holidays are upon us, and everyone is abuzz with the spirit of the season! The holidays are all about making memories with family and friends, and everyone celebrates differently.

Manual is very diverse and there are as many holidays celebrated as there are students from the Indian Festival of Lights, Diwali, to the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, Tet. But no matter what holiday one celebrates, it’s full of unique traditions that personalize it. This holiday season, our student community shared the various holiday traditions that it celebrates.

Many students and their families celebrate Christmas, but even though the holiday is the essentially the same for many people, they celebrate in several different ways. Some people, like Isabelle Boehart Kruger (10, YPAS), celebrate on a different day than Dec. 25; Kruger is German and her family celebrates Christmas on Dec. 24, as well as celebrating St. Nicholas Tag on Dec. 6.

Seasonal winter cookies like jelly sandwiches and butter cookies are popular among local bakeries and have simple recipes. The photo on PxHere is licensed under CC0 1.0. No changes were made to the original image. License link: https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/.

Another tradition is baking and eating sweets on Christmas Eve. Some students bake cookies or cinnamon rolls with family or eat doughnuts. Jessica Rogers (11, YPAS) bakes Pillsbury sugar cookies with her family every year before going out to look at Christmas lights. Paul Reynolds (11, HSU) and his family eat Pelmeni, a Russian meat dumpling.

The holidays are a time of festivity and fun, and some families show their holiday spirit by playing games such as White Elephant, Fish Over The Sheet, Elf on the Shelf, Secret Santa or the Pickle Ornament, in which someone hides a pickle ornament somewhere on a holiday tree and the first person to find it gets to open a present on Christmas Eve.

Other families have traditions of watching a certain movie every year while they decorate their tree. Garrett Ferguson (11, HSU) watches National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation while his family decorates their tree.

Eva Spohn (12, VA) celebrates the Winter Solstice with a friend, and every year they go to Cherokee Park and decorate a tree with ornaments. The twist? The ornaments are bird-edible: an environmentally friendly and natural variation on a traditional activity.

Amulya Ankem (11, HSU) and her family celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights in which candles are placed in the windows and doorways of homes to invite the Hindu goddess of luck and riches, Lakshmi, to bless the inhabitants. Ankem and her family paint divas, the candle holders; eat various Indian sweets, called mithai; and keep their candles lit for an entire month. This year Diwali fell on Oct. 19.

Vinh Pham (11, MST) and his family celebrate the Vietnamese New Year according to the lunar calendar, called Tet.

“Tet is the passing of the old year’s troubles and the beginning of a new year with new opportunities and luck,” Pham said. “It’s all about the importance of luck and family.”

They place offerings of fruit on alters with pictures of ancestors and have family reunions. Children get money in envelopes, called lì xì or lucky money, of the colors red and yellow, which symbolize luck. Pham’s family attends their church’s festivities since they’re Christian, like many other Vietnamese families in Louisville. They wear a mix of Western clothing and traditional Vietnamese long dresses, called Áo dài. This upcoming year, Tet falls on Feb. 16.

Jalyn Farrow (11, J&C) celebrates the New Year with her family by eating breakfast at midnight on Jan. 1.

Tyler Smith (10, J&C) celebrates the holiday of Festivus, which first appeared on an episode of Seinfeld in 1997 as a fictional alternative to more religious winter holidays such as Christmas and Hanukkah.

“It’s a joke: George’s dad makes this holiday called ‘Festivus, the holiday for the rest of us.’ And it’s not Christmas, and it’s not Chanukka, and instead of a menorah or a Christmas tree you celebrate with a pole made out of beer cans,” Smith, who makes a Festivus pole every year, said.

“[Festivus is] just kind of a running joke,” Smith said. “I got really into Seinfeld a few years ago, and then I just kind of went from there. I’ve been doing [Festivus] for a few years.”