Food, music enrich Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa celebrations

As the snow comes down and encapsulates the city in a winter wonderland, students prepare to celebrate their favorite holiday traditions. For many, they are part of Christmas, but other students have Hanukkah and Kwanzaa traditions. Food and music are the staple of these traditions.

For those who celebrate Hanukkah, sufganiyot is a popular food, similar to a jelly-filled doughnut. Latkes, or potato pancakes, are also found at a traditional Jewish dinner.

During Kwanzaa, the most popular dishes to have at the table are fried okra and peanut soup. During the last day of the celebration, families will sit down to enjoy these items at the Karamu, or feast. Traditional Karamu also consists of Mexican posole and West African jerk pork.

Junior business administration major Olivia Colonello said she likes her traditional Christmas dinner. “One of my family members always makes ham,” she said.

Some students add a twist to their Christmas dinners. Freshman Kelly Sundberg, a sports and exercise science major, said her family makes “little hot dogs in a blanket, deviled eggs and sticky buns.” Senior theology major Dani Wagner said her family “fights over the leftover fried mushrooms each year.” Junior physician assistant major Lauren Franssen said her family “works together to make a homemade pizza.”

Gannon students represent different nationalities so it isn’t surprising that they incorporate their various heritages into their holiday traditions. Freshman physician assistant major Carly Gerba likes to stay true to her Polish roots. “Before the holidays my family gets together to make peirogies and stuffed cabbage,” she said.

Other students who celebrate their Polish heritage are sophomore psychology major Mark Lesniewski and junior legal studies and business administration major Kaitlin Musloe. Lesniewski said his family likes to “eat fish, as well as borscht, which is a beet soup.” 

Musloe describes an interesting tradition involving oplatki, a wafer-like food with Christmas scenes on it. “We break bites of each other’s oplatki,” she said. “We don’t eat until they’re gone.”

Deryk Joseph, a freshman accounting major from the Virgin Islands, said he enjoys eating apple and cranberry sauce. He also enjoys listening to Christmas carols by Dave Matthews.

Listening to Christmas carols is one holiday tradition many students love. Gerba said her family sings the 12 days of Christmas in Polish. Junior occupational therapy major Katie Haic’s family takes a different approach to Christmas music. “Each year my family goes downtown in Cleveland to watch the Trans-Siberian Orchestra,” she said.

Senior nursing major Julie Kleber has very specific rules about Christmas tunes. “Music played during the Christmas season should not start until Thanksgiving, and you should stop playing your Christmas music by New Year’s Day,” she said.

For those who don’t celebrate Christmas, a traditional Hanukkah song is “The Dreidel Song”. Children sing this before they play games with their dreidels. For Kwanzaa, children will sing “The Seven Days of Kwanzaa.” This song teaches children the meaning of each day celebrated.

Though these students have different traditions, they all agreed that good food and music make the holidays unforgettable. “Each year my family goes downtown in Cleveland to watch the Trans-Siberian Orchestra,” she said.

Senior nursing major Julie Kleber has very specific rules about Christmas tunes.

“Music played during the Christmas season should not start until Thanksgiving, and you should stop playing your Christmas music by New Year’s Day,” she said.

For those who don’t celebrate Christmas, a traditional Hanukkah song is “The Dreidel Song” which children sing this before they play games with their dreidels.

For Kwanzaa, children will sing “The Seven Days of Kwanzaa.”

This song teaches children the meaning of each day celebrated.

Though these students have different traditions, they all agreed that good food and music make the holidays unforgettable.

DEADRIA CLARKE

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