As the sun begins to shrink earlier and earlier from behind the horizon and students walk more briskly across the quad, swaddled in their scarves and puffy jackets, we all look forward to the culmination of the semester, an end to the rigorous studying and the long, relaxing recess from school. Now is the time for silent snow-laden walks at dusk and fireside snuggles with family, friends and steaming cups of hot chocolate. We reflect upon all that we have been given and all that we have to give. Our different backgrounds make our families’ traditions unique and special to us. Juniata students explain their families’ traditions and what is most special to them about this time of year.
Justin Wisniewski ’14 Moorestown, N.J.:
Wigilia is a Polish tradition that my family celebrates every year. In Polish it means “the vigil” and it’s a dinner on Christmas Eve. It consists of a seven-course meal and every entrée is fish-themed. We have angel hair pasta with clams, shrimp with cocktail sauce and the main course is a giant fillet of salmon and it is glorious. Salmon is my favorite food ever and my mom makes everything homemade. Both my immediate and extended family get together for this feast.
Hannah Miller ’13 Hanover, Pa.:
My family celebrates two weeks of Christmas festivities. We spend Christmas day at my house and then we travel to the houses of both sets of grandparents to celebrate all together. My grandma’s traditional dish is beef and noodles. We all watch a lot of movies together as a family and eat lots of food.
Liza Ebbets ’13 Mechanicsburg, Pa.:
For Christmas dinner, my mom makes a huge bowl of chili and we end up eating the leftovers for the following week. When my brother and I were little, our parents would always let us open one present on Christmas Eve. Somehow, it would always end up being pajamas. We believed that if we wore them that night we’d get the presents we wanted in the morning. Even though we’re both full grown adults now, we still get excited to open the one present and we beg our parents like little kids, but they’ve since stopped the pajama theme.
Ellie Rice ’16 Gettysburg Pa.:
Every Christmas Eve, my dad’s side of the family gets together at my grandmother’s house and then the next day everyone comes to my house for dinner. My family is extremely close and we enjoy spending time together. My family is really big. I have 30 cousins just on my dad’s side. On Christmas Eve, we all gather in the living room and play songs on the piano and guitar and play flute and cello and sing. Sometimes we will have story sessions where everyone tells an inspirational story of something that they experienced over the year. For New Years, we eat pork and sauerkraut because it’s a German tradition.
Doriana Hyman ’16 Port Washington, N.Y.:
We do the Hanukkah lighting together as a family and we sing all the prayers together. At the dining room table, my family and I prepare to light the candles. We put tin foil down to keep the wax from dripping on the table and we scrape the wax from previous years out of the Menorah. The kids arrange the different colored candles in a pattern. All the kids argue about who’s going to light the Shamash each night. For gift-giving we all buy presents for each person in the family. Each night we give a gift to a different person and relatives also send us presents in the mail.
–Hannah Jeffery ’16 Juniata Online Journalist