Christmas traditions of clemens students
From the oaky scent of a freshly cut tree to the presents under it, crinkly wrapping paper of glossy gold and silver, what’s not to love about Christmas? Christmas is a special holiday, held dear to many people’s hearts. And while many of the ways people celebrate Christmas vary slightly or differ completely, each way is unique, distinct, and special.
While many people celebrate some type of holiday in December, not everyone celebrates specifically Christmas, and not everyone even celebrates in December. Nina Momcilovic, who is originally from Serbia, celebrates both Christmas and Orthodox on December 25th and January 7th, respectively.
“Because my parents are Orthodox too, we celebrate both versions of Christmas,” Nina said. “I think it’s special because they are two different countries, so we have two different ways of celebrating.”
Serbia has a vastly different way of celebrating Christmas.
“We go to church and we have a small tree, and a lot of people get together. And there’s a big fire, and then you throw the tree in the fire and everybody makes a Christmas wish,” Nina said.
Since Nina has family both in the United States and in Serbia, where she celebrates Christmas also varies.
“Every year is different,” Nina said. “Sometimes it’s at home, sometimes in Serbia, and last year it was in France.”
Angel Martinez is a junior at Samuel Clemens who has a large extended family, as well as a large immediate one.
“On Christmas Eve we have a celebration with our bigger family: our tios, tias, grandma and grandpa, all of that,” Angel said. “And then Christmas day is to ourselves: my parents, my three sisters, and my three dogs.”
Angel’s Christmas meals also stray from tradition, such as the traditional turkey and cranberry sauce.
“Christmas Eve, we always have tamales. Always always,” Angel said. “And then Christmas day my dad makes enchiladas. Either beef or chicken; whatever he’s feeling that day.”
Angel made it
clear that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are exclusively reserved for her family.
“It’s just family time. It’s like we’re getting closer and closer together each year. We never invite people over or go to someone else's house: It’s always us,” Angel said.
Angel’s family traditions are both great fun and a way to bring her family closer together.
“We always have the same matching pajamas,” Angel said wistfully. “We always buy matching pajamas to wake up in, to take little pictures in afterwards. It’s pretty simple. It’s just something that we do.”
Freshman Michael Snow was born in Germany and also has a large family, but they are extremely religious based.
“My family has begun to go to a midnight Christmas Eve mass,” Michael said. “And we also do what’s called the pickle present, which I believe began in Germany. A pickle ornament is hidden in a Christmas tree and whoever finds it gets to open the pickle present, which for me was always a movie.”
Michael spends Christmas exclusively with his family, and his two older siblings come home from college to celebrate together.
“I spend it with my family at home and I also get to see my older siblings because they come home from college,” Michael said. “On Christmas Day, my siblings and I wait at the top of the stairs for our parents to call us down to open presents. And while we’ve gotten older, it still feels like we’re little kids running and pushing to be the first ones to the presents.”
But the way his family celebrates, he assured me, wasn’t noteworthy by any means.
“I don’t think the way I celebrate Christmas is special. It’s just a time that my family can get together and celebrate while also getting presents,” Michael said.
Some things are still the same: the lights, the snow, the Christmas music. But some traditions are better left exactly where they are: in people’s hearts.
J1 student writer, Alexandra Hickok