SPF Students Reflect on Global Holiday Celebrations


Michelle Cagnassola

The end of the year is filled with celebrations as people all round the world partake in cultural holidays. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa are common in the United States, but other countries have a wide participation in unique and cultural holidays. and many other religious holidays are celebrated throughout the world during the months of November and December.

The United States                                                    

Christmas is ranked as the most celebrated holiday in the United States, with 1.6 billion documented celebrators. Part of its popularity is attributed to how it is “hyped up”- every year, people look forward to the (wikipedia) idea of celebrating love and gift giving. There are many different ways to endorse this holiday, and junior Ashley Becker talks about how her family practices.
“On Christmas Eve, we usually have pizza, and in the morning my grandma makes a sausage, egg, and cheese casserole,” Becker said.  “Then Christmas night, it’s usually a ham and turkey with a bunch of sides like potatoes and green beans.”
Aside from food, family is also an integral aspect of the holidays.
“I celebrate with my mom, dad, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandma, and grandpa, then my cousins,” Becker said.
Becker’s family has a goofy tradition in her family.
“On Christmas, we do a ‘trashy’ Santa.  Everyone brings a gift that wasn’t bought [for example, regifting or using items from around the house],” Becker said.  “ Then, everyone picks a number, and we choose gifts in number order, so you go home with presents and a trashy gift.”
Although celebrating the same holiday, everyone has a unique way of making it their own.  People eagerly prepare for the winter as they anticipate spending time with the people they love, doing traditions they love.


In Israel, Shabbat (Sabbath) is regarded as the most important holiday. While many Americans believe Hanukkah is the most important holiday to those who practice Judaism, many of their holiest holidays include those like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Emily Smulewitz, a sophomore at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, practices Judaism and celebrates Hanukkah.
“I celebrate with my family and the people that are in my Hebrew school because we have a carnival,” Smulewitz says.
During the eight-day observance, Smulewitz and her family participate in the holiday by lighting the menorah, a common task in Jewish households.
“We light the Menorah every night, and I eat latkes as well as visit my grandparents one of the nights, and I see my cousins too.” said Smulewitz.
Another common way of celebrating includes eating.
“Normally I eat chocolate coins which are called “gelt”, and my family eats jelly doughnuts which are a standard food that Jewish people eat during Hanukkah but personally, I don’t like them,” Smulewitz said.
Hanukkah, although, not the most holy holiday is still practiced and observed by the Jewish population.


The most appreciated holiday in China is the Chinese New Year, which is celebrated by various other Asian countries too. Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is celebrated at the turn of the lunisolar Chinese calendar.
“Night of the Lanterns” is an ancient holiday that precedes the new year; to cap off the night, there is a fireworks show among other main events that are widely looked forward to.


Similarly to China, Spain views the New Year as one of the most important holidays of the year, and there are many traditions associated with it.
Part of the celebration is to eat twelve grapes at exactly midnight. The amount of grapes is  representative of the months to follow, and the grapes are supposed to bring happiness with each month.
There are also fireworks and food such as chocolate, fritters, and churros.