Holiday Traditions and Different Cultures

With Christmas right around the corner, the holiday season is off to a snowy start. However, Christmas is not the only holiday celebrated throughout December. Whether you spend your holiday with family or friends, it is always a special time of year. Regardless of what you celebrate, how you celebrate it, or why you celebrate it, winter is a happy season for all.

For example, in Colombia they celebrate Día de las Velitas, also known as Day of the Little Candles. It starts off the Christmas season for Colombians. This holiday is celebrated on December 7th. People place candles and paper lanterns in their windows, on sidewalks, and more in honor of the Virgin Mary and her Immaculate Conception. After decorating the windows, the neighborhoods are lit up beautifully to celebrate. On December 8th, each home raises a white flag to honor Virgin Mary as well.

Rena Centeio, a sophomore at Malden High, is Greek Orthodox. She celebrates Christmas with gift giving and tree lighting in her house. There are many different Christmas customs in Greece. One of these customs include the Greek Christmas boat in seaside towns and islands. They decorate boats in central squares. The Christmas tree is a foreign custom for Greece. It was brought by Otto, the first king of the country. Over the years, the Christmas tree was integrated into the local culture.

Nour Belkessa is a freshman at Malden High School who practices Islam, meaning she does not celebrate Christmas. During December those who practice Islam make up days that they have missed during fasting. This Christmas season, Belkessa occasionally gives gifts to those who celebrate. She states that seeing others celebrating Christmas does not have much of an effect on her because “[she has her] holidays as well.”

Jenna Greige, a freshman at Malden High, practices Christianity. She goes to church every Sunday and church school every Saturday. Greige and her family celebrate Christmas the Italian way. On Christmas Eve, she shares gifts within her family. They eat fish for dinner as well. On Christmas day, she opens gifts from under the tree and eats meat for dinner. Christmas in Italy is celebrated for several weeks. Italians celebrate from early December, depending on the region, until the day of Epiphany, on the 6th of January. 

Similar to Greige, Julia Ferreira, a freshman at Malden high, is Christian as well. She celebrates Christmas with her Brazilian family and has a party with them either at her house or Martha’s Vineyard each year. She stays up past midnight to open presents. Many traditions in Brazil originated in Portugal. Most people go to Missa do Galo (Mass of the Roster), which is a Midnight Mass service. The mass ends at 1.00am. On Christmas day, some people go to church again, but on this day the services are often in the afternoon.

These are just a few of the many traditions Malden High students carry out. Malden High is full of diversity and people of many different backgrounds, and since it is the season of giving, we should give them our full appreciation as to what they do during the winter season. Being aware of different cultures and beliefs is key to creating a stronger community. Happy Holidays!

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