A Diverse Season of Joy

Sophie Pressler, Reporter

Many people are greeting each other in every room. The smell of food permeates the space almost as deeply as the jubilant sound of laughter. Everyone is smiling and hugging and just generally having a good time. It’s the holiday season, a season of joy.

Typically, Christmas is the most marketed and discussed holiday of the winter season in America. However, there are several other holidays that are celebrated during the same time period such as the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Also, there is Eid e Zehra which is celebrated by some Islamic sects. Both of these holidays occur around the time of December depending on the moon sighting and star dates. Despite being less known by people not of these faiths, these holidays are equally as interesting and fun for those who participate in them.

“Lighting the candles for Hanukkah is a really neat experience,” junior Camille Stearns said. “I like being able to spend a lot of time with my family during the holiday.”

During the eight days of Hanukkah, a special candelabra holder called a menorah, that has nine branches with candles, has one of its candles lit every night of the celebration. The number of candles is important because it commemorates the fact that a day’s worth of oil kept the menorah lit for eight days. The menorah itself symbolizes a divine light spreading through the world.

“There are many traditional foods we eat such as kugel, homemade doughnuts and brisket,” junior Michael Sobin said. “My favorite food is Latkes.”

The foods consumed during Hanukkah are mainly oil-based such as Latkes which are potato pancakes. As well as many traditional foods, games are a big part of the celebration. For example, a game played with a special spinning top called a dreidel is very popular in Jewish homes. The dreidel has a Hebrew letter on each of its four sides which are used to direct the players as to what they will do with the money put into the pot.

“Eid time means a ton of good food,” junior Anmol Momin said. “My favorite dishes include samosas, butter chicken, and mithai.”

Like Hanukkah, food is a big part of the Eid e Zehra and all Eid celebrations. Some of the foods include fried pastries, or samosas, and mithai which are traditional sweets. The food is enjoyed with family and friends in the temple that they are affiliated with during the celebration. The holiday itself is celebrated to honor the daughter of Prophet Muhammad as a day of joy and happiness.

“When Eid falls on the weekend my Jamath Khana, the specific temple that I am a member of, has a bunch of games set up for us kids to play,” Momin said. “There’s also a lot of dancing and loud music.

Also similar to Hanukkah, is the incorporation of games during the celebration. For Eid, the adults will set up games for the kids to play such as treasure hunts and a fun telling of traditional tales. However, Eid is different in that it is common for children to be given money, or Eidi, from relatives.

“I was able to be in New York during Hanukkah one year and celebrated with family I usually don’t get to see,” Sobin said. “Being with my family is a really important part of the holiday for me.”

Consistently, getting together with family and friends is a huge part of the holiday season. For many, it’s much more important than the festivities associated with the holiday. Whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah or Eid e Zehra, the holiday season is a time to be with those that you care about most.

“I really enjoy the holiday seasons as a whole,” Stearns said. “It’s nice to see friends and family so happy and thankful to be with one another.”