How Beckman Celebrates the Holidays
A look at how Beckman students celebrate the holiday season with their family and friends
December 15, 2019
It’s mid-December, and the holiday season is in full swing. While many of us are accustomed to the traditional red and green decorations with bright, twinkling lights, this time of the year is more than that. The “holiday season” encompasses a myriad of celebrations unique to each culture and heritage. December has a special and unique meaning for every student at Beckman, and each definition of theirs is truly worth sharing.
The most mainstream holiday of the season is Christmas. Stores start playing Christmas music and put up their tree as early as Nov. 1 to get their customers into the holiday spirit and indulge in the “spirit of giving.” However, Christmas holds much more of a special meaning for senior Sandra Kim.
She is a member of the Christian faith, and Christmas is a very important celebration for her. It represents her eternal gratefulness for God and a time of beginnings. Christians believes that Christmas marks baby Jesus’ birth, which was a chance for humanity’s renewal as Jesus was sent to Earth to die for humanity’s sins.
Sandra spends her Christmasses with her family at church to express her love and gratitude for God. “We show our gratitude and remembrance of God’s perfect love for us and the extent that he went in order to save us,” explains Sandra. These masses are filled with joyful celebrations with dancing, singing and acting.
One year, Sandra played the flute for the orchestra. The musical arrangements accompanied the chorus’ performance about Jesus’ birth. She spent arduous hours in preparation for her group’s performance. “Though I wasn’t singing or dancing, playing an instrument was just as meaningful for me,” she states. Playing the flute was Sandra’s special and unique way of showing her appreciation and love for Christ during this special time of the year.
Another well-known holiday of the season is Hanukkah. We’re taught about this holiday in elementary school to celebrate the cultural diversity that exists in the United States. But, what does this holiday really mean for our Jewish students? For sophomore Jake Golden, Hanukkah is a sacred time for him and his family.
Hanukkah, which roughly translates to “dedication,” is a commemoration of the Macabee’s miraculous victory over the Syrian Greek army and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. The holiday goes on for eight days because the oil that was in the lamp the Maccabees used lasted eight days, rather than the expected one day.
Jake’s family celebrates this holiday with many special rituals and traditions to honor their past. They eat fried foods to pay homage to the oil that lasted for eight days. Some of these foods include latkes – fried potato pancakes – and sofganiyot – jelly donuts. Jake finds these foods to be one of his favorite parts of the holiday. “We only tend to have it this time of the year,” says Jake.
In addition to the food, Jake and his family play dreidel, which represents the miracle of Hanukkah. The spinning top used to play dreidel has a distinct character on each face to signify “a great miracle happened there.” And perhaps one of the most notable parts of the holiday is the menorah. A menorah is a candle lamp with eight separate candles to represent one for each day. As each day of Hanukkah passes, they add a candle to the menorah. Jake’s family has a plethora of these around the house to celebrate this sacred time. “It’s not uncommon on the last night for our fire alarms to go off,” Jake remarks.
From the dreidel to menorah, Hanukkah is ultimately a special time for Jake and his family. They get to spend time with one another during this time of year and ultimately remember their traditions and celebrate their religious freedoms.
There are so many more holidays in December from all sorts of different cultures that bring families and friends closer together. This last month of the year serves a special purpose for everyone – it’s the end of the year, a time for self-reflection and celebration. No matter what you celebrate, from the Beckman Beat editorial staff to you, happy holidays!