The Christmas season brings mixed thoughts for students of different religions


Photo courtesy of Gage Orgel

On December 4, 2022 WCHS sophomore Gage Orgel protested the overcommercialization of Christmas in his bedroom.

By Isabella Ngwana, Internal Commmunications Manager

“Jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh, what fun is it to ride in a one-horse open sleigh!” Whether it’s Mariah Carey singing on the radio or getting Christmas gifts, most students find themselves getting in the holiday spirit. Or do they all? Not everybody believed in Santa Claus at one point or watched “The Grinch”. 

Muslim, Jewish and non-religious students often feel excluded from the “holiday joy” that only seems to spread to those who celebrate Christmas. WCHS Jewish sophomore Daniela Corona Shtrutman finds herself feeling “trapped” by the Christmas spirit. 

 “My thoughts on Christmas have varied majorly through the years,” Corona said. “At first, I was jealous of the kids who got to celebrate Christmas. I’d watch Christmas movies and become dazzled by the Christmas spirit. Once I reached middle school, I was more resentful.”

Like many Jewish students, Corona didn’t grow up watching holiday movies made for Jewish children. Holiday movies are either about finding love around Christmas time or Christmas with families. Most activities during the holiday season often have a connection with Christmas which leads to requiring Jewish students to partake in social activities with their friends centered around Christmas or at school.

“It can be a little bit frustrating but I understand why people use it as a neutral term, I can’t lie, I say it as well, I assume most people celebrate. It’s frustrating, when in classes teachers always talk about Christmas when we do Christmas activities” Corona said. 

Even though some WCHS students might feel left out. WCHS students do a great job including their peers and teachers in their holiday traditions and spirit, regardless of what holiday they celebrate. 

“Sometimes I do feel more left out of the Hanukkah spirit because there aren’t that many Jewish people. I feel very included in the Christmas spirit and although it’s enjoyable, it isn’t what I want,” Corona said. 

Though the Christmas season has its ups and downs for those who don’t celebrate it, all WCHS students have traditions of their own. WCHS sophomore Gage Orgel feels the warmth of his long-time family traditions, even if they aren’t as large as others. 

“My grandma and I always do the Hanukkah prayers each night and we wait for the candles to burn out after the prayer, sometimes we go to our cousins house and light the menorah,” Orgel said. 

The importance of the holiday season is its ability to bring people closer together. Vast religions and traditions are highlighted during the most wonderful time of the year. The holiday season gives WCHS students the opportunity to reflect and learn about the importance of these holidays celebrated.

“Hanukkah is special to me because it has a unique backstory like every other holiday and it only happens once a year,” Orgel said. “I like that it’s more than one night and it’s just almost like a little holiday season that you get to spend and celebrate with your family.”

Even if WCHS students love Christmas or hate it, the phrase “Merry Christmas” can become annoying very quickly. 

“Depending on where it’s coming from, it can be annoying to be told ‘Merry Christmas’ since it is an assumption that everyone celebrates Christmas.” WCHS sophomore Johari Saidi said.

Christmas day traditions vary depending on the family or person. Some watch Christmas movies with their families, drink a warm cup of hot chocolate, or open gifts as soon as they wake up. Atheist student Saidi treats it as a regular day and Christmas spirit as a regular part of her life. 

 “Christmas day never means anything to me, so I usually just treat it like a regular day,” Saidi said. “Hearing Christmas songs everywhere doesn’t bother me at all, I’ll sing along if I know the words. Everything like commercials and products is pretty easy for me to ignore.”

No matter what the holiday season means to WCHS students, there should still be a mutual acceptance of their identities. The holiday season allows students to express themselves in different ways. Atheists, non-religious students, or those of a minority religion have lived without Christmas in their lives.

“I think Christmas sounds wonderful for anyone who wishes to celebrate it for religious reasons or just for the fun spirit, but I don’t feel left out. It’s just something that’s never been a part of my life.” Saidi said.