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Holidays of Hornets

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Holidays of Hornets

Maxton Preuninger, Writer

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It had been six months since he last saw his dad, and Christmas was quickly approaching. A fourth grader at the time, current junior Christian Brack was getting picked up from school, coming close to a Christmas without his dad, who was deployed in Iraq as a National Guardsman.

As he stepped out to the parking lot, he saw his dad standing across from him, still in uniform. He bolted to him, fueled by pure joy. It was a Christmas he would never forget.

As presents create memories for some during the holidays, spending time with loved ones creates the most significant memories for others, like junior Christian Brack. Brack celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas.

“I’m a very devout Christian, but I believe that the Christian roots of our faith are in Judaism,” Brack said. “The celebrations in Judaism are still pertinent to Christianity, because they’re so intertwined. I celebrate both, because I think it still has relevance.”

Brack chose to celebrate Hanukkah when his church transitioned to a new pastor. The pastor is a Hebrew scholar and can speak Hebrew. He introduced Brack to how Jewish traditions are still relevant to Christianity now.

“It’s more all-inclusive in exploring every part of my faith,” Brack said. “The feeling is similar to Christmas. We’re reminiscing over what’s happened so far in the past, just like we reminisce over Christmas and how its origins have sparked how we think about things now. It’s a very good feeling, and the history is very interesting.”

After experiencing the distinct feelings of both holidays, Brack says Hanukkah is more family and community oriented than Christmas is.

“Whenever you get people that are celebrating this holiday, more people understand the actual meaning of it,” Brack said. “My actual favorite part about Hanukkah is definitely the seventh night. We’ve got the full menorah, and it’s really pretty and it’s just like ‘That’s really cool.’ But obviously, Christmas has its own distinct feeling, and it’s almost like a double whammy because I get both of them, and they are spread apart enough to where I get this distinct seasonal feeling, and then it dwindles and rises back up again. It’s really interesting to me. “

While most families spend the day at home with family on Christmas, sophomore Jaelun Thomas’ family starts the holiday with a trip to iHop for breakfast. After opening presents with his immediate family, they meet up with extended family at his grandparents’ house for a second round of presents and food.

“There is not a frown, ever, when we are celebrating Christmas, and it’s so much fun,” Thomas said. “No matter what, people are still appreciative of each other. The presents are nice too, but that’s what makes people even happier.”

One Christmas when Thomas was in elementary school, his parents got him a microscope and a globe. He remembers staying up late at night looking at his skin and anything he could find under the microscope.

“I would look at the countries [on the globe] with the microscope, and I would just be like, ‘Wow! I’m right there! I think I can see myself!” Thomas said. “I was just pretty dumb. I miss that innocence.”

While Hanukkah and Christmas begin their festivities in December, Diwali is celebrated between October and November Also known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is a five-day Hindu holiday that celebrates new beginnings and light over darkness. Business teacher Mital Kilburn has celebrated Diwali since she was a baby.

One of her earliest memories of celebrating Diwali came from her school in England celebrating. She was four years old.

“We would have a festival and dances to celebrate the occasion,” Kilburn said. “I remember dressing up and going to the temple to celebrate.”

Her family goes to the temple around Diwali to get blessings for the new year and attends a celebration in Arkansas with hundreds of other people. She also wishes friends and family a happy new year.

“There is a phrase, ‘Saal Mubarak,’ that means ‘Happy New Year,’ that we text all of our friends and family,” Kilburn said. “Before the great world of texting, we would have to call all of our close relatives and tell them.”

Now, Kilburn most looks forward to the memories that she will get to make with her three-and-a-half year old daughter. Being able to celebrate the festivities with her husband and daughter and teaching them about the culture and rituals is her favorite part of celebrating.

“[My daughter] enjoys every bit of the celebration and soaks it all in,” Kilburn said. “[I look forward to seeing] the pure excitement on her face.”

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