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Winter Holidays

Students and teachers celebrate unique holidays for the winter season

January 19, 2020

From autumn leaves and cornucopias of food to colorful ornaments and spruce trees, winter is beginning to unravel as the fall season ends. Most students celebrate Christmas and Thanksgiving; however, some may differ in holidays and traditions. 

When people think of winter holidays, the one holiday that crosses most people’s minds is Christmas. Although Christmas tends to be the main winter holiday celebrated, people from around the world celebrate other unique holidays while incorporating Christmas in their celebrations. 

Due to relatives living apart from each other, some students struggle to see their families reunite as one for the holidays. Junior Lucy Isham and her family created their own holiday, where they reunite between Thanksgiving and Christmas, called “Thankmas.” 

“Thankmas started a really long time ago,” Isham said. “Since Christmas and Thanksgiving are so close together, we made ‘Thankmas’ where [the family] gets together. 

Isham’s family celebrates with her family with a typical feast people would have on Thanksgiving but mixed with Christmas traditions as well. 

Everyone will get a bunch of food, like turkey, sausage balls, green beans or a regular Thanksgiving meal at around 2 p.m. and hang out and talk with each other. Sometimes, we exchange gifts like we do on Christmas.”  

Diwali is a festival of lights, a religious observance by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists around the world.

“I celebrate it with my immediate family,” Business teacher Mital Kilburn said. “My mom and sister in law always go all out and make special snacks and treats for the Diwali season.”

People attend fireworks displays, prayer services and festive events to celebrate the occasion.

Diwali is a five day festival, and each day we celebrate by having celebrations with family, and we light diyas [candles],” Kilburn said. “We end with lots of fireworks each night.”

Although the Indian community is not as large in Arkansas compared to other states like California, Texas, Illinois and New York, the community continues to host events for people to celebrate together. 

“The Indian community has a huge Diwali celebration for members to attend,” Kilburn said. “There are other organizations in Little Rock that have celebrations as well.” 

Living in a mixed culture family, sophomore Katie Kandlbinder celebrates Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and Hmong New Year, celebrated in the fall. It is a communal and social event that occurs during late Nov. and early Dec. The event is a time for Hmong people to serve their favorite dishes, wear traditional clothes, and honor the fruitfulness of the season. 

“Hmong New Year [to me] is when all of your family gets together or in your state. You get together and you dance and have a matchmaking event for the start of the new year. 

At the start of the Hmong New Year, parents will match their sons and daughters with a suitor to follow a tradition that was passed down from Laotian people.

“Your parents will match you with someone, and it’s not as traditional as it is in Laos,” Kandlblinder said. “But it is still a tradition that we do even if we don’t follow through with the whole matchmaking side of it.”

U.S Census Bureau released demographic profiles for Hmong Americans in 2018 with an estimated value of 309,564 Hmong Americans which makes the group a small community in the states. However, the small communities of Hmong Americans hosts huge events for people to celebrate.

“I’ve been to Hmong New Year in Ozark, Arkansas. There’s going to be Hmong New Year hosted in Little Rock and I’m going to be there. I’m also going to be going to California this winter to celebrate over there with my relatives.”

At the start of the Hmong New Year, parents will match their sons and daughters with a suitor to follow a tradition that was passed down from Laotian people.

“Your parents will match you with someone, and it’s not as traditional as it is in Laos. But it is still a tradition that we do even if we don’t follow through with the whole matchmaking side of it.”

Not only do they follow the matchmaking tradition, Hmong people wear uniform or skirts as their traditional wear.

 “We dress into traditional Hmong clothes instead of just formal wear,” Kandlblinder said. “We wear lots of layers and some of the girls will wear uniforms because they perform dances.”

A Hmong New Year brings families together from across the state to celebrate with Laotian food and traditions. 

“It’s usually your family that gets together and you’ll have a really big party. The aunties will get together and make a whole bunch of food during the day or the day before [the celebration]. The kids usually hang out and do nothing while the dads sit around and have ‘grown-folk talk’.”

There is a wide variety of holidays people celebrate around the world, but they all have one thing in common: celebrating together with family.

“[Holidays] are days where I am able to spend time with my entire family,” Kandlbinder said. “A time to relax, and a time to think about how I’m grateful for the love my family shows me.”

 

This copy originally appeared in the December 17, 2019 print edition.

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