Happy Holidays!


Courtesy of Artina Zarpak

A classic christmas tree surrounded by presents brings joy and excitement to the whole family, even the cat!

By Austin Vinner, News Editor

Imagine a crackling fire, glowing bright warm light shining throughout the house. A family is gathered early in the morning around a lush green tree, enrobed in decorative ornaments and lights. The excitement in the room can’t be contained; soon enough everyone is ripping the neatly folded paper off of large boxes that sit under the tree. 

This is some stereotypical imagery associated with the holidays, but it’s not the only narrative that should be represented. December is an exciting time for people of all backgrounds and whether celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or other holidays that fill this cold time of year, everyone has something to look forward to.

“I’ve noticed Kwanza, New Years, and Thanksgiving around Christmas and Hanukkah time,” WCHS senior Artina Zarpak said. “I love that they all happen so close together so that there is more than just one exclusive holiday celebration.”

The great variety of holidays around this time of year is what contributes to the contagious attitude and good vibes. While all holidays bring joy, few have as great an influence as Christmas.

“I love that the Christmas spirit starts in November,” Zarpak said. “The environment is so unmatched and happy. Christmas songs are year round songs.”

The unmatched influence that Christmas has on society can cause some disagreement. For one, many dispute when it’s “acceptable” to start decorating for Christmas and playing Christmas songs.

“We start decorating our house right after Thanksgiving and we start by putting up our iconic white Christmas tree that we’ve had since I was little,” Zarpak said. “We don’t take anything down until mid January since the Christmas vibes are too good for just one month.”

This festive attitude is just one point of view and depending on who is asked, people have different opinions and traditions when it comes to the holidays. Seth Goldfine, a senior at WCHS, celebrates Hanukkah and has a differing opinion on Christmas music.

“Early November is definitely too early but still I like when the Christmas songs start coming on and lights start going up on houses,” Goldfine said.

While similar in some ways, Hanukkah does greatly differ from Christmas. First off, it usually occurs earlier and instead of just one day, Hanukkah lasts for 8 days.

“One of my family’s traditions for Hanukkah is to go to my grandparents house and light the candles all together,” Goldfine said. “We play a Hanukkah themed game like a word search or family feud with Hanukkah questions.”

Even though many don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s impossible to ignore the celebrations that come with one of the most popular holidays. Elaborate decorations and Hallmark movies are impossible to miss and give everyone from any background something to look forward to.

“For me Christmas is great because it means we get Chinese food and sometimes watch movies and hangout with family,” Goldfine said. “I also love all of the Christmas spirit from the community.”

Besides Hanukkah and Christmas, Kwanzaa is also a popular, albeit less well known, holiday in December. Kwanzaa is an annual celebration of African American heritage in late December and much like Hanukkah lasts for a week.

Kwanzaa differs from other holidays in that it is not affiliated with a religion. Instead, Kwanzaa is a modern day Harvest celebration that centers around seven principals. Similarly to the Hanukkah Menorah, Kwanzaa is celebrated with a candelabra, called a Kinara. 

Something that is unique to Christmas is the time students get off from school. While winter break is usually scheduled to cover Christmas, the same cannot be said for Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

“I think we have school off for Christmas since 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas while less people celebrate [other holidays],” Zarpak said.

While Christmas is the most popular of the holidays, not having off on other holidays can make it difficult for some people to travel and see extended family. Then again, between Thanksgiving and winter break, students already have a lot of time off in November and December.

“I think we have off on Christmas because of the proportion of people who generally celebrate Christmas in the county,” Goldfine said. “I wouldn’t mind trying to get another eight-day break for Hanukkah but that’s asking a lot.”

What everyone can agree on is that one of the best parts of the holidays is getting gifts. Whether getting them all at once on Christmas morning, or having one each night for eight days, every highschooler has something to get excited for.

“Usually my mom asks me what I want but otherwise it’s things that I would get the most use out of like a gift card to a store I go to a lot,” Goldfine said.

During a time of year when everyone is caught up in the holiday spirit and getting gifts, it’s important to be thankful and appreciate time spent together, especially after the past year of lockdown.

“I usually get clothes for gifts but I always make a Christmas list which usually consists of books and chocolate,” Zarpak said. “My favorite gift is the time I get to spend with my immediate and extended family.”