Celebrating with Community

Megan Lee | The Chronicle

With the first semester of the 2022-23 school year coming to a close, students at Mason High School are looking forward to how they are going to spend their winter break. The Chronicle staff asked some students what their winter traditions are, and how it brings them joy.

Senior Maria Habra

Each Christmas Eve, the Habra family spends the night enjoying a delicious ham dinner and watching the classic movie A Charlie Brown Christmas. From the outside, these traditions may seem simple, but to the Habra sisters, this needed family time means so much more. Nearing the end of her high school career, Habra said that she is using this remaining time to further her tight-knit relationship with her sister. Through the holidays and Christmas cheer, these sisters are realizing just how special their family time can be. 

“[My sister] and I are exceptionally close,” Habra said. “Celebrating [Christmas] is something we can always do together, as a family.”

Sophomore Samantha Pinsky

Each year, many families gather around the Menorah to celebrate Hanukkah. For Sophomore Samantha Pinsky, this holiday brings more than just peace. Hanukkah is an eight-day long holiday that goes from December 18 to December 26. For each day of Hanukkah, Pinsky and her grandma go shopping for eight different gifts they will open throughout the celebration period. When lighting the Menorah, Pinsky and her family say prayers together and use them as a way to connect. As she and her sister grow older, it gets more difficult for the whole family to spend time together. Pinsky said she is grateful for this time of year to connect with, her sister and the rest of her immediate family. 

“As a family, we are always busy and everyone’s got their own thing,” Pinsky said. “It’s nice to have that time when we can all just be together and celebrate.”

Freshman Caleb Nicholls

A small and thin wafer made with just flour and water may seem unappetizing, but for Freshman Caleb Nicholls’s family, the impact is much more meaningful. The Christmas wafer, also known as an Oplatek, is broken at the table before a Christmas eve dinner. Originating in Poland and Czechoslovakia, it was common to break the Oplatek, which represented the body of Jesus Christ. However, in some American cultures, the wafer symbolizes hope and forgiveness. Nicholls said it’s a tradition each person in the family can respect and participate in. Breaking the Oplatek gives hope and light to the coming new year while uniting families in the process. Nicholls said he finds joy in being able to experience this with his family.

“It keeps our family’s ancestry alive,” Nicholls said. “We find comfort in knowing their legacy is still with us.” 

Junior Angela Chan

Chinese New Year is an annual festival in Chinese culture that welcomes the new year. In 2023, it will take place at the end of January. Chan and her family spend each Chinese New Year eating traditional Chinese dishes such as dumplings, shrimp and fish ball soup. Chan’s family passes on money in red envelopes, which symbolizes good fortune. They also attend different Chinese festivals in the area and celebrate with other families throughout the celebration period. Chan said her family’s way of celebrating is consistent as well as impactful. 

“It’s going back to my heritage and my culture,” Chan said. “It’s so special to my family specifically because we’ve been doing it for years and years.” 

Sophomore Zach Bryan

When the Christmas season comes around, many kids look forward to a line of presents under the tree. However, Sophomore Zach Bryan’s family experiences the Christmas spirit much sooner. Each year, the Bryan family goes to the Liberty Center where they compete to buy each other the best Christmas gift. Each of the three Bryan siblings is given $50 to spend on each family member. Each sibling finds joy as they run around the mall dodging one another, creating a competitive but entertaining night. 

“It’s the first thing that comes up when Christmas comes around,” Bryan said. “It connects us as a family.”  

Illustrations by Becca Hunter