As we enter the month of December, celebrations leading up to the beloved holidays are in full force. The holidays are all about spending time with loved ones and with that comes an array of family traditions fitting for this time of the year. I reached out to the students of GBW to ask them about which holiday traditions are part of their family, and I gathered unique traditions from five students, starting with my own!
Every year, my mom’s side of the family hosts a gingerbread house competition on Christmas Eve. We split up into groups of three and put on our game faces to see whose house wins the prize of “Best Decorated.” When asking my sister Emily why this tradition is so meaningful to her, she says, “I love how the tradition puts a smile to everyone’s faces and brings out some family competition.” Each unique gingerbread house highlights the creativity of each group’s final product, leaving us with five special gingerbread houses to put on display every year.
Caroline Casey, a junior at Glenbard West, shared two of her favorite family traditions. First, Caroline and her family attend the Larsen’s Light Show in Elburn every year after Thanksgiving to, as she puts it, “get in the Christmas mood” with her family. Also, her and mom make kolaczkis, a type of polish cookie every year around the holidays. They then give the cookies they made to families and friends, which reminds Caroline of the importance of “giv[ing] without receiving.” Caroline adds that both traditions are “small things that bring [her] family together, especially during the stress of the holiday season.”
Megan Murphy, a senior at Glenbard West, told me about a special ornament tradition that started in her family a couple years ago. Megan explains, “We have clear glass ornaments and everyone in my family writes something that happened over the year they they are proud of or was memorable on a slip of paper. We then put the paper slips in the ornaments and hang them on the Christmas tree.” Megan’s family tradition is a perfect way to review the past year and ring in the new year!
Alex Stolfe, a senior at Glenbard West, informed me of an Italian tradition that’s part of every Christmas Eve for her family: the “Feast of Seven Fishes.” This grand meal is an Italian-American celebration on Christmas Eve with dishes of fish and other seafood. The tradition stemmed from the night before Christmas as a fasting day, with the abundance of seafood reflecting the observance of abstinence from meat until the feast of Christmas Day itself. Alex says that “[she] loves that [their] Christmas Eve feast brings the family together and afterwards [they] spend hours talking and laughing at the dining room table.” Alex adds that “it is also very special for [her] to spend time in the kitchen cooking with [her] grandma.”
Ellie Morrison, a senior at Glenbard West, shared multiple holiday traditions that are part of her family, starting with how “[her] family spends a day in December decorating the house and putting ornaments on the tree.” Also, Ellie adds that “[they] have a lot of family birthdays in December so [they] always have a big party around Christmas to celebrate all the birthdays.” Finally, when Ellie was younger “[Ellie’s] siblings and [her] used to sleep in the same room on Christmas Eve.” Ellie loves this time of the year because “it is nice to spend time with family and relax during such a busy time of the year.”