Celebrating the holidays

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Winter Break has finally arrived, concluding a stressful few weeks of assessments and work. Many people have been awaiting this break from school to relax and celebrate the holidays. Earlier this December, we sent out a survey asking students to answer questions about the Winter Holidays. With 198 responses, we gathered that approximately 62.6 percent of students celebrate Christmas, 18.7 percent of students celebrate Hanukkah, 16.7 percent of students celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas, and the remaining 2 percent celebrate other, including Chinese New Year, Kwanzaa, Diwali, New Years (A Russian Celebration) or no holiday at all.

Based on our results, most Harvard-Westlake students celebrate Christmas. Christmas represents joy, warmth and presents. Though it’s conventionally a Christian holiday, many irreligious people celebrate Christmas too. The celebration of Christmas brings families together and spreads a sentiment of giving and cheer. In the classic depiction of Christmas, the fabled Santa Claus journeys to houses on Christmas Eve and shimmies down the fireplace to deliver presents to children. The results of our survey show that some claim people often forget about the religious aspect of Christmas due to the grand celebration of presents and decorations. Over half of the people who responded to the survey said they believe the holidays are over commercialized. “People have changed Christmas from a very serious and special day about Jesus, to a holiday that’s about Santa and shopping,” said an anonymous respondent.

Many people have holiday traditions that are always fun and tend to be big part of celebrating. According to the survey, our school’s favorite part about the holidays is being with family.

“Holidays are not about gifts or giving. It’s about having quality time with you family. The people you love need some time with you too,” an anonymous respondent said.

Students also shared some traditions.

“My family is Jewish, but my nana on my mom’s side is less Jewish than my dad’s side. I celebrate Chanukah at my house, and we always celebrate Christmas morning in New York City at my nana’s apartment. My sister and I don’t really get gifts for Christmas, just for Chanukah,” Alex Hyman ‘23 said.

“Occasionally, my parents invite a series of family members, close friends, and others to our house on Christmas Eve, where we exchange gifts which is part of a ‘Secret Santa’ party. This “Secret Santa” is an event where we draw names out of a hat a few days before Christmas Eve, whoever you select you must buy a gift for that person anonymously, and once someone receives a gift, that person must try and guess who got them the gift,” an anonymous respondent said.

“I love making Stranger Things gingerbread houses with my sister,” Anna Jennings ‘24 said.

Ultimately, the holidays celebrated during the Winter season are enjoyed by many. Whether you celebrate religiously or not, the holidays are a joyous occasion that bring people together.

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