By: Dominick Daniele
When you think of the month of December, it is difficult to not think about Christmas. Maybe it is because of almost every store displaying Christmas trees, wreaths with bright lights hanging up outside while the snow and cold air scatter around.
“I really enjoy buying gifts, setting up the Christmas tree, and spending time with my family,” said junior Ryan Kulish.
Although the popular holiday of Christmas is very well advertised and celebrated throughout the world, there are other holidays in December that receive attention.
One of these holidays is Hanukah. Hanukah is the holiday that is celebrated by those who are of the Hebrew faith.
“When my family celebrates Hanukah, we light a candle on the Menorah every night until the 8th night and we say blessings before they are lit, said junior John Goodnough.We also recite special prayers.”
Since the celebration of Hanukah lasts for eight days, it begins on Dec. 12th and ends on Dec. 20th.
Oil is very sacred when it comes to Hanukah because a tiny amount if olive oil was miraculously used to light the eight candles, according to Prof. of Theological Studies Daniel Rober. It is a tradition to eat foods fried with oil.
“My favorite are the potato latkes,” said Goodnough. “My family also makes the traditional Israeli jelly-filled doughnut.”
Surprisingly, Hanukah is actually not the most important feast of the Jews, says Rober.
“It became a more popular feast in the United States as Jews became more involved in United States culture,” said Rober. “It offered an alternative to the popular holiday of Christmas.”
Kwanzaa is also another holiday in December that many people recognize, but do not know much about. Kwanzaa begins on Dec. 26th to Jan. 1st.
This holiday represents the celebration of the Civil Rights movement and African heritage in the United States.
According to Prof. of Theology and Religious Studies, June-Ann Greeley, the main tradition of the holiday is the family gathering together each night, lighting one candle a night until seven are lit. Once the candle is lit, there is a family reading and reflection on one of seven essential principles of Kwanzaa.
“It is a holiday like no other,” said Greeley. “It does not celebrate just history or a religious occasion. It focuses on the unity and well-being of the social community, social ethics, ecological consciousness, the pan-African heritage of African-Americans and the fusion of several distinct yet affiliated African traditions and cultural artifacts.”
Additionally, there are other catholic holidays in December that do not get as much attention as Christmas, according to sophomore Erin Rederscheid.
“The main one is the feast of the Immaculate Conception,” said Erin Rederscheid. “It is the moment when God declares Mary free from original sin from the day of her conception. I think this is very important to celebrate because without Mary, there is no Jesus and therefore no Christmas.
Some students do not take part of the Christmas traditions because of their different religious beliefs, but find ways to be positive. One of these students is junior Omar Abdo.
“I am Islamic, and we do not celebrate a holiday in December,” said Abdo. “It does feel strange when everyone is celebrating Christmas here because I did not grow up in that tradition, and I really don’t like the Christmas music, but everyone seems very happy during this time.”
Although Sacred Heart is a Catholic university, the school tries its best to include and accept everyone’s faith during the holidays.
“Here at Sacred Heart, we do a good job of both valuing the religious reality of Christmas and making sure every student feels included even if they are not someone who celebrates Christmas as a religious holiday,” said Rober.