The students of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point are excited for the upcoming holiday season. Students celebrate different holidays and set their own traditions with their families, making them special in their own way.
Julia Cheng is a junior majoring in accounting & business management from Kenosha, WI. Julia’s favorite holiday is Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year is a holiday that celebrates the new year. This is Cheng’s favorite holidays because of the family gathering, food, and decorations.
“People travel far to be with their families, this is one of the two biggest holidays,” Cheng said. “Chinese New Year is very important to our culture, it’s a time when family can get together”.
Chinese New Year is a 16-day holiday and changes every year, along with the zodiac animal. This year, Chinese New Year will take place on Feb. 18 and the zodiac animal will be the dog.
Cheng said, “New Year’s Eve we put up red decoration for luck, that includes red lanterns and firecrackers that go off on New Year’s Day.”
Red is also a prominent part of the holiday attire.
Another Chinese New Year tradition is the passing out of red envelopes filled with money to children. This symbolizes luck for the upcoming year, and parents recommend the children save it.
The dinner table will feature vegetables and fish on this holiday. The fish also represents luck, whereas “a surplus of fish means your family won’t go hungry.”
Brigitte Benitez-Vargas is a senior business administration and Spanish major. Brigitte is from Luvianos, Mexico, and her favorite holiday is Christmas.
Benitez-Vargas said Christmas “provides inspiration for humanity. It’s not the presents or the decorations. It’s the fact that people come together as a community.”
At her home there are “lights everywhere,” including light projections that illuminate the trees. Santa Clauses and penguins make it look “like a Christmas museum.”
At Bentiez-Vargas’ dinner table, there are tamales, pozole and tamarin water. For desert, her family has cheesecake and arroz con leche, which is a sweet rice with milk.
When opening presents, Benitez-Vargas and her family all wears pajamas.
“My mom wears this Santa Claus hat and this big red robe and hands out presents as if she’s Santa,” Benitez-Vargas said.
To top off their Christmas, the family watches “homemade movies that include a recap of special events, holidays and highlights of that year.”
Jerron Baldwin is a senior communications major. Jerron is from Kenosha, and his favorite holiday is “Hallelujah for the Holidays.”
Hallelujah for the Holiday starts on Thanksgiving and ends after Christmas.
“I look forward to the family prayer right before opening presents on Christmas. This has been a tradition since I was little,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin said this is his favorite holiday because “everyone is happier and contains a positive attitude, and all the food.”
At the Baldwin dinner table, there is slow roasted ham, roast, mac and cheese, collard greens, yams, hot water corn bread, German chocolate cake, coconut cake, lemon cake, cheesecake, banana pudding and bread pudding.
Imani Christian is a junior computer information systems major from St. Paul, Antigua. Her favorite holiday is carnival.
Carnival is the Caribbean celebration of freedom from slavery by those who live in the West Indies.
“At carnival, there is partying, parades and listening to music,” Christian said.
The streets are decorated with the theme of that year, the streets are painted with colors.
“It’s a great time full of fun,” Christian said.
The holiday takes course over a couple of weeks. There is always entertainment and Jouvert (a huge street party). In Jouvert, people are dressed by their bands (colors varying by the persons group) and extravagant garments.
At Christian’s dinner table, you can find “the national dish, saw fish and ducana” (dish of grated sweet potato and coconut with spices). On each island the dish differs.
“The longer the tradition continues, the bigger the holiday becomes” Christian said, and she anticipates when she will be able to attend another one.
Hannah Castaneda-Hutchinson is a freshman wildlife ecology major. Her favorite holiday is Halloween.
“I️ had a lot of good memories growing up,” Castaneda-Hutchinson said. “My dad would dress up, and because he’s short everyone would think he’s my mom’s son, we got a lot of candy.”
“Halloween is fun in general, it gives me an opportunity to express myself,” Castaneda-Hutchinson said. “I like being able to dress up as whatever I choose, and people accept you.”
“My favorite costume was my Red Robin costume in eighth grade,” Castaneda-Hutchinson said. “Now that I’m an adult, it still fits but way better than it did as a child.”
Starz Wint is a sophomore nursing major. Wint is from Hartford, CT, and her favorite holiday is easter.
“It’s a really strong memory I have from living in Connecticut,” Wint said. “One of the few times my family would get together, we have a cookout and Easter eggs hunts at my school.”
At their dinner table, you’ll find Jerk chicken and cup soup (soup that nobody knew what went into it and nobody questions either).
A few other reasons this is Wint’s favorite holiday is because it allows for her to bond with her family, as well as set standards for when she has her own.
“I think holidays are more about family than anything else,” Wint said. “It’s an occasion that forces us all to be together”.
Everyone has their own reasons for loving the holidays they celebrate, but one thing remains the same: holidays bring out the best in people.