GURJOT KANG; Mag Writer; firstname.lastname@example.org
Olivia Egejuru, Junior: Edmonds, Washington
For winter break, Olivia Egejuru usually travels back to Nigeria where she grew up, but this break she plans on staying with her family in Edmonds, WA.
In Nigeria for Christmas, Egejuru often spent the day at church and after that her family would bond together over a meal.
“Since I come from a very big family usually there’s so many people at home and we just spend time catching up with everyone.”
One Christmas tradition Egejuru enjoyed in Nigeria were masquerades where a select few members of the community would dress up in costumes with long hair and capes, towering around seven feet tall, and go from house to house to perform and dance. Egejuru also describes how those participating in the masquerades are sometimes around seven feet tall.
She explains how masquerades are seen as very spiritual in her culture and therefore, often take place around Christmas and New Year’s.
During New Year’s, Egejuru and her family have a tradition of staying up late and counting down the clock to 12 a.m. (as they believe it’s bad luck to sleep into the New Year), and at midnight they pray for blessings towards the New Year and then go to church or celebrate the New Year at home.
One thing Egejuru is looking forward to this winter break in Edmonds is gift-giving: “I enjoy buying gifts for my family a lot, especially if it’s something they’ll like. So I really enjoy waking up on Christmas morning and just watching them unwrap their gifts and be so happy and filled with excitement.”
This holiday season, Egejuru really appreciates the opportunity to reconnect and spend time with her family, including her little nieces and nephews.
Every year, Marie Vetter travels to France to spend her winter break with family there. She describes the holidays with her family as a “very boisterous” and “always fun” experience.
Her family has a huge Christmas celebration every year with all the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends coming over. At this gathering, they all share a meal that lasts from 11 a.m. to well into the night, and have lots of dancing and amazing food. On the gathering, Vetter says, “It’s the biggest celebration of the year.”
One of her favorite holiday foods is a dessert called Bûche, which is a chocolate log cake decorated with Christmas elements like little Santa Clauses or Christmas trees.
Another holiday tradition in France that Vetter describes as “a pretty big deal in her family” is King’s Day celebrated on the sixth of January. On King’s Day, a cake with a ceramic doll called “La Galette des Rois” (the Kings’ Cake) is made and whoever ends up finding the doll in their cake becomes the king or queen for the day.
Vetter mentions how the holidays are “the one time where everybody from different corners of France are all coming back to the center for us” and “my family is all together at once, which can sometimes be a little hectic, but it’s definitely an amazing time.” This year, Vetter is looking forward to seeing the villages, beautiful old architecture and places covered in snow that always makes Christmas in France magical. For Vetter, “Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without everybody together. Everything else is great—the food, the presents, the place—but without the family aspect, it wouldn’t mean half as much for me.”
For the first week of winter break, Elana Tracy is going to Middletown, Ohio to visit her dad’s side of the family and plans on spending Christmas there with her grandparents.After that, she is traveling to Nevada to spend a late Christmas and New Year’s with her granny.
One of her favorite things about the holidays are the dinners: “In Ohio, we always have so many desserts. One of my cousins always brings about four or five pies, and sometimes she brings cake or cookies,” said Tracy.
For dinners, she enjoys the warm-cooked homemade meals everyone brings to the potluck. Tracy’s favorite food from the dinner is always the cherry pie her cousin makes.
She also really likes the traveling aspect of the holidays and seeing her grandparents at the airport. Tracy also enjoys experiencing Christmas in the different climates: “It’s really nice to go from the desert to a snowy white Christmas.”
In addition, she likes spending New Year’s in Las Vegas and seeing fireworks on the strip.
This break, Garcia is looking forward to sleep, comfort, home-cooked food and seeing his dog. He is also excited for the whole family to get together and share jokes in Spanish with each other.
During break, Garcia also plans on going up to The Summit at Snoqualmie to snowboard and ski down slopes.
One of his favorite foods to eat during the holidays is tamales, and his favorite tradition is “la rosca de reyes,” Three Kings Bread, which is a Mexican holiday tradition that includes the whole family trying to find a small plastic baby Jesus inside a piece of bread.
On the tradition, Garcia says, “I really like doing that because it’s fun to see people freaking out that they got the baby Jesus.” Garcia recalls one time where he found the baby Jesus four times in a row: “whoever gets a baby Jesus has to cook something for the rest of the family, so since I got four, [my parents] had to make four different dishes to feed roughly 30 people.”
Overall, this break, Garcia is glad to be “just getting that mental break, not stressing over nothing, reclaiming who I am and finding myself again because every semester of college is a new start to your life.”
As an out-of-state student, Katie Andrade is looking forward to traveling back home to reunite with her family over winter break.
For her, the holidays remind her of leaving food out for Santa, carrots for the reindeer and candy canes on the Christmas tree. One of her favorite annual winter holiday traditions is enjoying Christmas breakfast with her family—“Christmas Day, we always have breakfast together,” said Andrade.
Although there are many things Andrade likes about the holiday season, what she loves the most is the laughter: “we’re a big, laughing, jokester, sarcastic family. We definitely spend our days together laughing and enjoying each other’s presence.”
During winter break, Kyle Siemers is excited to visit the Black Hills in South Dakota where her grandparents live in a beautiful cabin in the mountains.
She recalls the setting as “serene” and “family-focused” as everyone bonds over cutting and decorating the Christmas tree together. Another thing Siemers enjoys about the holidays is listening to Christmas music with her family, including Josh Groban Christmas songs.
Siemers’ favorite family holiday tradition occurs Christmas morning every year when her family enjoys cinnamon rolls (with green and red maraschino cherries on her mom’s favorite armetale plates) and grape juice.
Siemers loves going back to see her family each year, but as break wraps up, she also looks forward to catching up with her friends and family at her other home, Pacific Lutheran University. ◼︎