GHC students have a wide variety of cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds, each with their own take on Christmas and the season in general.
The experience of the holiday season varies across differ- ent cultures and backgrounds and can mean something to one person and something else entirely to another.
For example, Amadou Touray is a Muslim who hails from the Gambia in West Af- rica, where the Christmas festivities are quite unique compared to those of other cultures.
“My family doesn’t celebrate Christmas,” Touray said, “But I have a lot of Christian friends, so I go out and celebrate with them and they come over when we have Tobaski or Ramadan.”
“When it’s Christmas,” Touray said, “My friends cook at their house, a big meal, and celebrate with music everywhere. People come and we eat. Then in the afternoon, they have this thing like a masquerade. We call it ‘hunting.’ People have drums and are going around houses… Somebody wears a mask and there’s a bunch of people behind the person wearing the mask, clapping and singing, roaming around the city, people giving them money.
After that, we take the money and make a big party and stuff. It’s pretty cool.”
In the case of a Catholic family, there are several common traditions.
“We have to go to mass the day before Christmas and then we have to go on Christmas. It’s an obligation to go. Same as New Year’s,” Maria Aguilar said.
“Before Christmas, there’s a period where you prepare for when Jesus comes. You pray every day and you have this little crown of candles that you light every Sunday with family,” said Aquilar.
For José Martinez, also Catholic, the season marks an important time for his family.
“It’s mostly about getting the family together.” Martinez said. “Everybody comes from different states… It’s the only time the family gets together throughout the whole year.”
Like Aguilar, Martinez goes to mass on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
“It’s a great thing to do,” Martinez said. “They’re just some customs and courtesies
that we have – traditions, as well but it is something nice.”
The season is a familial time for Kathryn Atkins as well.
“We invite the whole en- tire family over, have dinner, open presents… We try to use Christmas as a time to show each other our appreciation,” Atkins said.
Despite the variety of ways that the season is celebrated across cultures, there seems to be common attitudes of kind- ness, thanksgiving and joyful- ness during the holidays.
As Touray said, “It’s a giving spirit… everyone pretty much changes [during the Christmas season], they’re in a giving mood.”
Martinez said, “It’s more of the giving season rather than getting.”
“It’s a great time to be grateful for everything that you have,” said Aguilar.