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‘Two is better than one’: WHS students celebrate multiple holidays

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‘Two is better than one’: WHS students celebrate multiple holidays

Photo by The Wisdom Daily

Photo by The Wisdom Daily

Photo by The Wisdom Daily

Lauren Sullivan, R3 Editor-in-Chief

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In life sometimes you have to choose. Either you’re a Jets fan or a Giants fan, a dog person or a cat person, or even a pea person or a carrot person.

But during the holiday season, many students at WHS don’t have to make these difficult choices—they celebrate multiple holidays instead. These students create unique traditions to celebrate the combination of their two holidays.

Everyone celebrates the holidays differently, and creates different traditions with their family members and loved ones. For WHS senior Haley Gasson, it’s a time of year filled with many different traditions.

During Hanukkah her family lights the menorah, says a prayer, and then opens up a small present. But then she celebrates Christmas by opening gifts under the Christmas tree, eating egg strata, going to the movies, and enjoying Chinese food with her aunt and grandma.

WHS senior Ally Escaldi also lights the menorah during Hanukkah and then visits her grandparents on Christmas Day. The meaning of celebrating two holidays has changed for Escaldi throughout her life.

“[Celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas] was great when I was little because I got double the presents, but now I like it because I have something to look forward to the whole month of December,” she stated.

During December, Escaldi looks forward to lighting the menorah and sharing presents with her family, and then helping her grandmother make the seven fishes, a traditional Italian-American dish, each Christmas Eve.

By having two perspectives, both Escaldi and Gasson see the emphasis society places on Christmas. Gasson explained, “Christmas receives more attention because we have a day off [of school], whereas Hanukkah you have to fit it in your schedule.”

Escaldi echoed this sentiment, noting that having off from school allows people to travel and visit family members.

There’s no doubt that Christmas is a highly commercialized holiday from the advertisements, to lights and trees, to the movies. WHS senior Rachel Rothenberg stated, “I feel like most people don’t even know when it’s Hanukkah.”

However, there might be a different explanation for the attention placed  on Christmas.

WHS senior Emma Herber, who celebrates Hanukkah and Christmas, stated that although Hanukkah has become more publicized throughout the years, it is not as big of a holiday in the Jewish faith as Christmas is to Christian religions. Herber said that holidays such as Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and Passover are much bigger celebrations in her house.

Even so, Herber believes that to many Jewish children, it can be alienating during the Christmas season to see all of the excitement around one holiday and not the other.

“[Christmas] is a huge part of our society for about three months” said Herber. “It’s a huge thing that, if you only celebrate Hanukkah you cannot participate in it at all, which I think can be really hard.”

No matter what your faith, it is important to remember the broader themes of the holiday season that link all of the faiths together: generosity, friendship, and love.

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