The Holiday Tradition Edition


Greta Reich

Redwood City trees at night

Greta Reich, News Editor

The winter holidays are a time for celebration and relaxation, and although there will have to be some adjustments made because of the pandemic, this year will still hold stories, traditions, and warmth. No matter which religions or cultures one identifies with,  almost everyone is celebrating something during winter break, even if it is just the time off. 

Winter break can mean something different for each person. It can mean celebrating Christmas by decorating the tree with family; lighting the candle on each night of Hanukkah and exchanging presents; traveling to see friends and relatives who live across the country; or simply spending time with loved ones and not having to worry about deadlines. Everyone has a unique way to spend the break based on their specific family traditions and cultures. 

While some traditions might not be possible this year, that doesn’t mean the tradition will end. It just might have to be replaced with another tradition this year. Junior Greg Parmer-Lohan explains what this means for him.

“In years past, we used to go down to San Diego and visit extended family and stuff… we can’t really do that this year.” Parmer-Lohan said. 

Despite not being able to see his relatives, Greg will still get to experience other favorite family traditions. 

“Decorating the Christmas tree is so fun. I know sometimes it will take a while, but looking for the tree in the lot and decorating together… It’s a reminder that it’s Christmas time and we have a relaxing break.” Parmer-Lohan said. 

But celebrations and traditions don’t need to revolve around Christmas in order to celebrate the break. Sophomore Becca Rosenberg’s favorite holiday of the year is Hanukkah, which she celebrates every year with her family. Many Jewish families, including Rosenberg’s, celebrate Hanukkah by lighting a candle on the menorah on each night of the eight days of Hanukkah.

“I think there’s something really special about having a celebration that lasts for so long because I feel like you can kind of spread out the fun.” Rosenberg said. 

She usually sees her extended family for this holiday, and though she won’t be able to do that this year, Becca still sees a silver lining. 

“There’s been opportunities to do so many more cool things. Like for instance in the spring, there’s a Jewish holiday and my family from around here and in Southern California and in Colorado were all able to get on the same call together and that wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the circumstances,” Rosenberg said.

Zara Ahsan, a junior who is Muslim, also looks for the fun opportunities she can experience this year. Her family doesn’t celebrate a specific holiday in December, but they still have many traditions this time of year.

“We kind of just celebrate the fact that everyone’s having time off on what they’re doing. So typically we go on a vacation somewhere because everyone is off, but we can’t really go anywhere right now, so we’re just going to hang out at home, watch some movies, do fun stuff like that.” Ahsan said. 

Even the teachers this year will be taking much needed breaks from the never ending Zoom calls. For example, Sequoia Spanish teacher Scott Stalder celebrates New Years with his family with a tradition from Spain.

“For New Year’s Eve, we try to have grapes. In Spain, you eat 12 grapes, like one for each month of the year, and you make a wish for 12 things you want for the new year,” Stalder said.

All these traditions – the grapes, decorating the tree, relaxing with family – are what make the holidays so special, specifically for these Sequoia students and teachers. While everyone’s holidays have been turned upside down this year, it is still possible to celebrate and have a wonderful winter break with friends and family if we can find the silver lining. As sophomore Becca Rosenberg explains:

“It’s really nice to have some traditions in your family that you can keep alive in this time but also some are just going to have to wait till next year and then they’ll be even more special because you skipped a year.”

Zara Ahsan and family near the fire pit
Greg Parmer Lohan and family near Christmas tree
Becca Rosenberg’s Hanukkah things