Time for Tradition


Decorations in the Palmer Ridge Library

For many people, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year! With cold weather, cozy treats, and catchy tunes, what isn’t there to enjoy? However, not everyone celebrates the holiday season the same way. For some people, it may look like a trip to the sledding hill, and a cup of hot chocolate. For others, a dip in the pool and a tropical drink are in order! Additionally, different religions often cause the holidays to look completely different than what you might be used to. For example, certain people don’t celebrate the same holidays that you might. Some people celebrate holidays you’ve probably never even heard of! Kayla Bisson, a tenth grader attending Palmer Ridge, is a Messianic Jew. She says “I don’t follow strict Jewish religion. So, personally, I still celebrate holidays that everyone else would, but I also throw in a mix of Hanukkah”. Bisson also celebrates Passover, a Jewish feast which commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. The celebration can traditionally last up to eight days, but Bisson does around a three hour version. “You do a lot of praying, a lot of steps, and there are just a lot of traditional things we do. Little kids go and find a piece of unleavened bread and they get a reward. Then the dinner process starts two hours later, and you don’t really start eating until the very end”. Her family eats lamb, deviled eggs, horseradish and celery, and unleavened bread. During the week of Passover, many people follow the rule of not eating bread with yeast, so they eat a type of cracker specifically made for this reason.
Another unique holiday celebrated is Chinese New Year. Amy Berliner and Kaya Kimmey are both eleventh graders and both students have traditions for the Chinese New Year, and even celebrated together last year! This holiday is a new year based off of the lunar calendar. “It is celebrated in Asian countries, and there’s a lot of spirit, the color red, and dragons!” says Berliner. Chinese New Year generally takes place during the months of January and February, with a different animal from the 12 Chinese zodiac signs each year. Kimmey explains “Last year Amy and I celebrated in Denver. They had a dragon dance, markets with food, and a bunch of tents set up. A bunch of people were there”. Kimmey lived in Japan for nine years, and had a very traditional way of celebrating with her family. She has a ceremony within the family and celebrates the zodiac animal of the new year. They also attend a parade and receive red envelopes filled with money, which she claimed was one of her was one of her favorite parts.

Along with Chinese New Year, there are many other unique holidays in different parts of the world which are celebrated by students attending Palmer Ridge. Sara Taormina, an exchange student at Palmer Ridge high school, also participates in many traditional holidays. Sara is an eleventh grader from Florence, Italy. Sara celebrates Christmas time by going to lunch with her parents on the 24th of December, Christmas Eve, and sometimes goes ice skating on the actual holiday itself. “Christmas is a big celebration in Florence Italy, but I know here there is so much decoration” says Taormina. She says every year they eat new foods but lasagna is a popular one. Sara says there are many more holidays that seem to be a bigger deal in America than there are in Florence. Halloween is one of the holidays Americans celebrate much more, whereas it often isn’t even considered a holiday in many other countries. Another foreign exchange student, Dawn from South Africa, described unique holidays to her country. She explained the origins of June 16th, a holiday celebrated in South Africa. It is also known as Youth Day, and it honors the many young people who were ambushed and killed on June 16th, 1976 in Soweto. Another holiday Dawn spoke about is Heritage Day, which occurs on the 24th of September. Heritage Day is a day on which South Africans celebrate diversity in their cultures and beliefs. Dawn says “On those days usually people dress up according to their culture, and just celebrate all of that stuff”. Many people also celebrate Freedom Day in South Africa, which is the 29th of March. This holiday commemorates the first non-racial national election. “ A lot of our holidays are about fighting for what is right” says Dawn. Dawn celebrates Christmas almost the same way that we celebrate it here. She says the biggest part of the holiday for them is the meals. Thanksgiving is not generally celebrated in South Africa, much like in many other parts of the world. Thanksgiving is a holiday that is generally specific to the U.S. Many foreign exchange students talked about celebrating the holidays with their host families this year. Certain holidays that we celebrate in the U.S. are completely new to some of the students from other countries, such as Thanksgiving. This means that a lot of these students got to experience a new holiday this year!