Winter Traditions

JOHNNY LAI [(CC BY 2.0)] / FLICKR
How students spend breaks with family

Early winter is a time to reflect on the (almost) 12 months of 2017 and to self-analyze, as a new year will soon be within our celebratory, firework-accompanied reach. Sometimes this means confronting the fact that you called your mom maybe once a month or didn’t take the time to catch up with a family member while visiting home. College, with all it entails, means some aspects of life will be sacrificed to make room for others. Unfortunately for families back in hometowns, this usually means they are up on the chopping block.

Combining this state of regret with feelings of extra kindness, love and altruism often felt around this time of year can conjure up the need to engage in cozy, humbling traditions with your loved ones. If you are searching for a reminder of the family time you have to look forward to after finals or even some inspiration for your own lineage, reading about the following student traditions may help.

Bailey McCarthy, a second-year animal science major, has several annual traditions.

“My family and I attend Christmas Eve mass,” McCarthy said. “I bake cookies with my sisters, nieces and nephews so that the kids have something to put out with their letters for Santa. On New Year’s my family and some extended family get together to have the Annual New Year Games.”

These games are inspired by the show “Minute to Win It” and require splitting up her large family into teams.

“The prizes also depend on the age groups, but they could be like gift cards, alcohol and of course bragging rights,” McCarthy said.

As the years have passed, McCarthy has developed a bond with the festivities and what they do to her family.

“I enjoy all these traditions because they bring the family closer together. I will probably pass on all these traditions because it would create great holiday memories for my family.” McCarthy said.

Gabriel Escudero, a fourth-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major, has a simpler but just as endearing tradition established with his family.

“[…] for Christmas usually my family is the one that holds kinda like this dinner with extended family so cousins come in from the next town over and sometimes different states,” Escudero said. “[It] almost rivals Thanksgiving sometimes. Then we stay up till midnight and open gifts with everybody.”

This holiday tradition stems from his roots in the Philippines.

“I know that that’s how they do it in the Philippines, […] my family emigrated from there, right, so I’m the first generation to be born in the United States,” Escudero said. “So they celebrate Christmas Eve and go to mass and then have Christmas day at midnight in celebration, so that is why they kind of brought it over here.”

For Escudero, the most meaningful part of what they do is catching up with family members he doesn’t see as much.

“It is nice to see all the family that comes over, especially if they are coming from other states and I don’t see them too often,” Escudero said. “Christmas has always been like a family kind of like get-together so it’s always good to see everybody have fun and exchange presents.”

Escudero highlighted the importance of reconnection once more, encouraging enacting traditions with your own friends and family, if not already in place.

“[…] in my experience traditions bring people that you don’t see very often together for a night of fun and catching up and stuff like that,” Escudero said. “I’m sure for other people, having that opportunity to catch up with people that they might have not seen in such a long time but [that] they are close with — I think that’s good, especially during like the holiday season. I would, I guess, recommend it, even if it’s just with a small group of people you know.”

Madison Friend, a second-year animal biology major, takes part in an ornament gift exchange and Black Friday shopping as part of her family traditions.

“My whole family celebrates on Christmas Eve, and we meet at someone’s house with ornaments that we picked out and wrapped,” Friend said. “For Black Friday shopping, every year before I was even born, we have gone to South Coast Plaza to walk around with all of our cousins and friends and anyone who wants to join. After shopping all day, we go back to my cousins house and play games.”

The Black Friday shopping tradition was started by her grandma in order for the family to have some fun after celebrating Thanksgiving. However, the ornament exchange idea began as a way to make their gift giving a little more meaningful.

“For the ornament gift exchange, we started when all of the cousins got older because the only thing we were giving to each other was gift cards, and it wasn’t as exciting as when we were kids,” Friend said. “This is now much more entertaining and fun, and we plan with our siblings how to steal the good ornaments.”

Friend enjoys these traditions mostly because she gets to be around her family and enjoy the memories they create from being together.

“I love being with my family. We get to catch up, hang out and share lots of laughs,” Friend said. “There are new jokes made every year that we never forget.”
She expressed a similar sentiment to McCarthy’s on how traditions have impacted her family.

“It builds connections and brings you closer to your family,” Friend said. “It gives everyone something to look forward to each year that you can add new twists to or keep just how it is. I think it is a special thing to see pass down the families.”


Written by: Cecilia Morales — arts@theaggie.org