‘Tis the season

SHS students from different backgrounds celebrate the holidays in different ways



Involved member of Falam Baptist Church of Indiana, James Thang, performs at the Sweet December event. The event took place on Nov. 29.

Holidays are spent with family as a time to cherish and have fun together. When students leave the doors for winter break on Dec. 19, a string of holidays awaits to be celebrated. 

There are at least 10 different nationalities and ethnicities represented in SHS, and with diversity comes different ways to celebrate the holiday season with friends and family.

Chin senior Judith Par welcomed Christmas with a celebration called Sweet December at her church on Nov. 29th. The celebration consisted of song service, eating, present exchanges and games. 

“It’s just very fun for everyone involved,” Par said. “It’s a way to enjoy the last day of November and welcome the first day of December simultaneously.” 

However, the tradition goes deeper than welcoming Christmas. The purpose of this tradition is for everyone to get together, have fun and get to know people they might not have known very well before. 

“It’s a special time for everyone to have fun and relax for one night,” Par said.

According to Par, her favorite part about this tradition is playing games and exchanging presents. The presents are bought by church members, and once at the church, they choose who to exchange presents with by picking a number from a hat. 

Like Par, freshman Sarah Bennett comes with a unique ethnic background. Bennett’s mother was born in Turkey, which allows her to celebrate the holidays differently than most. 

One of the traditions Bennett celebrates is called Mutlu Yillar, which is Turkish for “Happy New Year.” For her family, the tradition usually takes place at Bennett’s aunt’s house, and there they eat traditional food and open presents. 

“We open presents with our cousins, which is usually new clothes because we want to start the new year with new things, and (we) eat really good food like Kebab and Lahmacun, which is Turkish pizza,” Bennett said.

It’s a tradition, she says, that holds a special place in her heart.
“My favorite thing about this is I get to be with the people I love, and I’m able to start the new year with new clothes,” Bennett said. “It’s a brand new year, the same you, but with brand new stuff.”

She says the most unique thing about her family’s traditions is Noel Baba, who is her culture’s version of Santa Claus. 

Sara Bennett
Freshman Sarah Bennett has special traditions for the holiday season. They participate in the Turkish practice of Noel Baba

“He would give presents to children who didn’t have a lot of money, and he would throw gold into a bride’s window before she got married,” Bennett said.

Senior Samuel Kile was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo but grew up in Uganda. His cultural background is also reflected in his family’s Christmas traditions.

Kile starts the celebration on Christmas Eve by going to church from about 5 p.m. until 5 a.m. the next day, staying overnight. They pray, sing worship songs and open up opportunities for people to sing solo.

“It’s a very religious time for us,” Kile said.

On the actual day of Christmas, Kile goes to church and prays. He then eats traditional food with members of his church before going home with his family and feasting again. 

“We do a lot of eating,” Kile said. “We eat traditional food like pilau, which is rice cooked with a lot of ingredients, and chicken, lots of chicken. My family then gets together, eat food, and hang out.”

Kile’s favorite thing about this tradition is how he spends his entire day with his family and the people he loves while eating good food. 

Despite not sharing the same traditions and culture, the three students still share somethings. Kile, Par and Bennett all bring their individual cultures and traditions to the USA and spend the holidays with friends and family, spreading the cheer and positive atmosphere.