Holiday Traditions

December is a time of celebration of many different holidays and traditions. How do Mason students of different backgrounds and traditions celebrate the holidays? Let’s find out…

Jaskiran Kaur- Sikh

December is a sad month in Sikh history because many shaheed’s passed away – they are individuals that gave their lives up during this month for our faith. Both Sikhs and non-sikhs don’t know this about the month of December in relation to Sikh history. So, there’s kind of this unknown area in relation to what happened to our people this time of the year. To commemorate their shaheedi we go to the gurdwara, which is our place of worship, and usually there’s some kind of service in their remembrance. It depends on gurdwara itself, if they’re going to celebrate or commemorate their lives.

We celebrate a holiday in the beginning of November/late October which is called Bandi Shhor Divas. It’s around the same time as Diwali, but for us, Bandi Shhor Divas is a holiday where one of our Gurus, Guru Hargobind Singh Ji was in jail at the time and helped free 52 prisoners. He was going to be set free, but there were also 52 prisoners who were sitting in jail at the time that he was. Guru Hargobind Singh Ji created 52 threads so all the political prisoners who were imprisoned could leave with him by holding on to his shirt. This holiday celebrates the Day of Liberation. I would say Bandi Shhor Divas is one of my traditions because I think it was inspirational that Guru Hargobind Singh Ji didn’t just leave when he had the chance but that he made sure to leave with all the other prisoners. We celebrate it by going to the gurdwara with our families.

Photo Courtesy of Basma Humadi

Jacob Weiser- Jewish

On Hanukkah, it is a tradition to eat fried and oily food such as jelly donuts to commemorate the oil, which miraculously lasted for eight days when it was expected to only be enough for one day. We also light candles on the menorah each night to remind us of the light the oil brought to the Jewish people during those eight nights. Another tradition is giving gifts to friends and family each night, which makes for an immense amount of holiday shopping! The last most common tradition is playing dreidel, which involves spinning modified tops with Hebrew letters on each of their four-sides. The letters are an abbreviation for “nes gadol haya sham” meaning “a great miracle happened there” in Hebrew. It refers to the Jewish people’s victory over their Assyrian Greek rulers to reclaim their sovereignty and their sacred temple.

I enjoy these traditions because it’s a way to feel connected with my family and previous generations, along with other Jews celebrating all over the world. It is also especially delicious to eat all the traditional sweets with friends and family! Overall, my favorite Hanukkah tradition would have to be lighting the candles with parents. One of my earliest memories was getting to light the menorah with my grandmother, and seeing how happy she was to pass down the tradition to her grandchild.

Photo Courtesy of Basma Humadi

CJ Rivers- Christian

Both me and [Mason organization] Cru traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Cru usually Celebrates Friendsgiving with other houses who are a part of Cru during Thanksgiving week. They host a Christmas party that allows students to exchange gifts with each other and connect with one another during the holidays. The Christmas party is definitely my favorite tradition that Cru has during the holidays.

On Thanksgiving, I attend multiple of my family members’ Thanksgiving. My favorite house to visit is my Aunt Gwen’s house. She makes her delicious homemade tea and we play Scattegories, which is my favorite game. Next, we go around the room saying what we are thankful for, which is an awesome time to reflect on our lives. My favorite holiday tradition is visiting my Aunt Gwen’s house during Thanksgiving. We have an awesome time together, and the events allow us to connect as a family.

On Christmas, my mom lets me open the presents around midnight and then later on she makes homemade ribs and sweet potato pie with eggnog. On New Year’s Eve, my mom and I attend a church service that celebrates the countdown of the New Year. Afterwards, we have a late-night breakfast either at Denny’s or Ihop. Later in the day she makes homemade fried chicken to end the New Year celebration. These traditions are important to me because of the opportunity they give me to connect with family and friends.

Photo Courtesy of CJ Rivers