Celebrating Unconventional Holiday Traditions

Celebrating Unconventional Holiday Traditions

By: Camryn Ragland ’18 & Alexandra Sprouls ’19

Christmastime is usually full of quality time with family, large trees, heartfelt presents, and delicious baked goods. However, amongst this very standard celebration of the holiday, there are quite a few families that take part in unique celebration traditions.

Depending on the culture and background of a family, there are various holiday celebrations. Sanna ten Cate ’18 and her family celebrate Sinterklaas Day on December 5 and 6. This holiday is essentially the Dutch version of Christmas.

“Every year on December 5th each member of my family puts a shoe under the chimney with a carrot in the shoe. We put a carrot in each of our shoes because Saint Nicholas rides a horse and the carrots are for the horse. When we wake up in the morning there will be a big chocolate letter in our shoe which correlates to our name. For example I get the letter S. Sprinkled around our shoes are other Dutch candy such as pepernoten,” ten Cate said.

After ten Cate moved to America from Europe when she was 13, she lost connection with a lot of her family living abroad. But, this tradition branches the divide and continues to remind ten Cate of her roots.

“I really like this tradition because it reminds me of my Dutch heritage. I have been doing it since my very first Christmas. I love the celebration and I want it to continue on” ten Cate said.

Similarly, Logan Varsano ’19, has an interesting Hanukkah ritual of buying a Christmas tree and calling it a Hanukkah bush.

Varsano would annually travel to her mother’s parents house to help decorate their Christmas tree. Years ago, the family ended their holiday traveling but wanted to continue their celebration of Christmas. “We didn’t want my mom to feel like we were forgetting, or ignoring, her beliefs.” Varsano shared.

The Varsano family enjoys celebrating both holidays, and believes it has brought their family closer together. “I enjoy this event very much because I love being able to experience both religions and ‘Hanukkah bushes’ have just become a part of my family.” Varsano said.

Getting a Christmas tree and decorating it with ornaments of many differing shapes and sizes is common tradition shared by all. It is even more important for Marlo Von Der Ahe ’20’s family. They participate in a German tradition that entails hiding a pickle shaped ornament on their tree.

“On Christmas morning, me and my siblings rush downstairs, not only to see the presents under the tree, but to find the pickle on the tree. The first person to find the pickle gets an extra gift that Santa Claus leaves.” Von Der Ahe said.