“In Mexico, we spend Christmas day with our family. Tamales are the food to eat. We spend all day making tamales and this hot drink made out of peaches and apples,” shared senior Ana Torres. “Then we put up a pinata for the kids. We also give out goodie bags of small toys for the kids. We don’t have enough money for everyone to have everything, so we have secret santa so we don’t spend a lot of money. These simple gifts can be socks, lotions, or soaps. We just like having a lot of family time.”
Ana Torres, senior religion major, is part of the 81 percent of Americans who, according to Pew Research Center, celebrate Christmas. Many families have their own tradition on how Christmas day is spent. Whether we spend it faithfully at our grandparents’ house or with immediate family, everyone spends Christmas differently.
Carmen Mead, a sophomore elementary education student, can relate to the typical Christmas traditions celebrated in the United States. “Typically we wake up early, around eight o’clock, and open presents. In our family, everyone gives a present to everyone. After we open presents we eat breakfast and then just chill. Depending on the year, we may either spend it in our own house or at our grandparents’ house.”
However, while families like the Mead and Torres spend their Christmas around a tree and homemade food, others treat Christmas like every other day.
Jews, Muslims and observers of various other religions don’t observe Christmas. In fact, Pew Research Center surveyed Americans and reported that one in ten people don’t celebrate Christmas. Reasons why people don’t celebrate Christmas vary from not believing in these traditional myths, to the tradition being against their religious beliefs, or maybe these people just don’t want to conform.
For example, Mary Stephens runs a blog called “Homemakers Corner” in which she writes devotionals and inspiration to help other ladies on their spiritual journey. She wrote an article on how she came to stop celebrating Christmas. After her family had done some research they decided that Christmas was a pagan holiday dealing with gluttony and lasciviousness.
Christmas may seem like a holiday for everyone to celebrate, but sometimes it isn’t. Schools can’t openly celebrate most holidays because they can’t assume everyone celebrates these holidays or believes in the stories behind them. It’s okay to not celebrate holidays the way most other people celebrate.
The next time we come across someone who spends Dec. 25 differently, maybe we can remember that while 81 percent may say Christmas is a time for carols, there are still 19 percent who say there’s a different reason for the season. Whether we celebrate Christmas with Santa Claus, the birth of Christ, or simply with the love of family, it’s important to study what we’re actually celebrating.
Whatever you’re celebrating, wherever you are these next three weeks, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.
Naomi Prasad is a sophomore chemistry and biomedical science major from Federal Way, WA. She enjoys painting, swimming, flying kites and being at the beach.