As the weather starts to drop, though if you’re in the Midwest this may be wishful thinking, and multicolored lights are strung on neighborhood houses, the tell-tale signs of the holiday season are undeniable.
Winter Solstice, the time of year when the night is longest and the day is shortest, occurs annually between Dec. 20-23.
The Ancient Romans and Greeks have historical representations of holidays represented today, including similar jovial exchanges of gifts, feasting and easing of occupational expectations.
For most of the nation, Christmas is the prominent marker of the closing of another year. Christmas tree ornaments for sale at department stores and seasonal music spouting anticipation for Santa Claus plopping down the chimney insinuate popular interest in this particular holiday.
However, the variety of ways Winter Solstice is celebrated doesn’t always associate with this default marketing date on the calendar.
“I spend the holidays with my family,” senior chemistry major James Teuscher said. “We go to church in the morning to celebrate Jesus’ birth.”
Christmas has Christian derivatives, often being celebrated for its religious connotations about the birth of Jesus.
However, for others who continually celebrate Dec. 25’s designated holiday, a more sacrilegious interpretation reaps the same satisfaction.
Senior English major Eric Yanders admits his family celebrates Christmas, but is apathetic to the religious factors of the holiday. They simply enjoy spending time appreciating each other.
“We just view it as another American holiday,” he said. “We celebrate it just as a way of showing we care about each other. There are no religious symbols, we don’t have anything about the birth of Jesus, we listen to Christmas music just to listen to it.”
Much of Yanders’ interpretation of Christmas stems from his familial upbringing, viewing all secular holidays as good opportunities to create their own renditions.
Kansas City community member Stephone Easterwood also feels conversations and education growing up impact holiday traditions.
Attending J.S. Chick Elementary school, the general encouragement at the institution was for students to participate in Kwanzaa. This is a seven day holiday drafted to rejuvenate the cultural values of African American life.
“They wanted me to celebrate my heritage,” he said.
The overall message Easterwood gained from his grade school education was emphasis on two principles: Umoja, meaning unity, and Kujichalia, meaning self-determination.
The Judaic holiday of Hanukkah predates Christmas, entailing an eight day celebration representing a miracle accompanying the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrican-Greek rulers of Jerusalem in which a candle containing one day’s worth of oil managed to burn for eight days.
Freshman Jacob Clymore looks forward to spending Hanukkah with his family, lighting the traditional Menorah, an eight-spoke candelabra representing how many days the symbolic candle burned.
“I do view it as an expression of faith and spirituality,” he said. “It is very important to me and my family that we keep the tradition in the family.”