Students celebrate holiday traditions with cultural significance
The holiday season is often a time of celebration, and for many UH students, this means blending multiple different cultural traditions in ways that reflect the rich ethnic and religious histories of themselves and their families.
Biology senior Robert Kopliku comes from an Italian and Albanian family, and this year he’s celebrating at home.
“We moved here from Italy, so a lot of Catholic traditions have stuck onto our usual celebrations, but my family isn’t actually religious,” Kopliku said. “In Albania, New Year’s is just as important as Christmas, so we have big celebrations for both.”
Traditions include not eating meat on Christmas Eve and setting up decorations that depict the baby Jesus with Mary, which Kopliku said is very common in Italy. His family will enjoy meals that blend the cuisines from their diverse backgrounds.
Kopliku looks forward to the Christmas lights and music and getting to spend time with family.
Philosophy sophomore Ada Cinar’s family typically blends American and Turkish traditions on New Year’s by making a big feast that combines American classics, like turkey and pie, with Turkish dishes.
Her holiday celebrations this year have been dampened by the COVID-19 pandemic; Cinar’s mom is a nurse who has to work on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Because of this, her family will only welcome New Year’s with a small celebration.
“My family comes from a Muslim country, though my parents aren’t intensely practicing,” Cinar said. “In the past, we have celebrated Christmas just for the fun of giving gifts, but this year thanks to my mother’s work we will just stick to New Year’s.”
Cinar looks forward to having time off school, as she started college completely online and is glad to have a break from the adjustment to all in-person classes.
Biology junior Rania Agha is enjoying the holiday season by visiting her family in Qatar. She is excited to have home-cooked meals and to receive a physical as well as a mental break from finals stress.
While Agha was raised Muslim and does not celebrate Christmas, she loves getting to spend time with family in a country with good weather at this time of year. She comes from a Mexican- Pakistani household, so she is also happy to celebrate multiple international holidays like their independence days and be part of their national pride.
“Being Muslim doesn’t really affect what I celebrate personally. I never really celebrated Christmas or Halloween, but I would still go to dinners and hang out with friends,” Agha said. “I think it was more about my relationship with my family and friends that made these feel like a celebration.”