Winter Holiday Traditions

Take a look at winter traditions celebrated throughout different cultures.

For many, the winter months bring the celebration of holidays from cultures all around the world. Traditions spark from these gatherings of rejoice and are continued throughout future generations. Along with her family, freshman Sriha Penugonda keeps the traditions of Diwali alive. 

“We do a Puja, where we go into a room and pray to God,” Penugonda said. “Then my mom makes a bunch of food and sweets. Around night-time, we light firecrackers because [Diwali celebrates] the Festival of Lights.”

Music is another big part of Diwali and its celebration. 

“We listen to cultural music,” Penugonda said. “When we do Pujas, we listen to traditional music.”

Although Diwali can be celebrated in two different ways, the banishment of evil is common to both. Penugonda celebrates the version that is largely recognized by people from Southern India.

“A God named Krishna went to fight the demon Narakasura,” Penugonda said. “[Krishna] went to fight him, and [Narakasura] had a weapon that caused Krishna to faint. Krishna’s wife, Sathyabama, went and saved Krishna and killed the demon.”

Diwali is celebrated with lighting diyas and firecrackers as a representation of this battle, good winning over evil, and the ability to overcome challenges. 

Another holiday that celebrates with lights to represent victory over repression is Hanukkah. Junior Nolan Levy said there are different traditions associated with the holiday.

“We make latkes for Hanukkah which are like very oily hash browns,” Levy said. “We light a candle each day for the seven days [of Hanukkah] and get a present for each of the seven days.”

According to, Hanukkah celebrates the rededication to the Second Temple in Jerusalem. In 200 B.C. King Antiochus IV came into power and forced his citizens to worship Greek Gods. Jewish priest Mattathias and his five sons led a rebellion to fight for their freedom of religion and won the battle. With this freedom given back to them, Jewish people refurbished the Second Temple and lit a candle in the golden candelabrum to represent their victory.

“They only had enough oil to burn for one day and it lasted for eight nights,” Levy said. 

A remarkable miracle took place that day, thus beginning the holiday of Hanukkah, which continues to be celebrated to this day. Similarly, Christmas celebrates a miracle in the Christian faith. Junior Emre Marcom said her family has many traditions during the holiday. 

“We are very huge on decorating for Christmas,” Marcom said. “We have at least 14 trees throughout our house, and decorations everywhere.”

Along with decorating every inch of their house, the Marcom family tries their best to give back during holidays. 

“We’ve been putting together bags for the homeless since we moved here, so about eight years,” Marcom said. “A few days before Christmas, we go downtown and hand out the bags to people in need and wish them happy holidays.” 

Music plays an important role in both Diwali and Christmas celebrations. Marcom said she listens to a variety of Christmas music.  

“I love all the really popular ones like ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ by Mariah Carey and ‘Last Christmas’ by Wham!,” Marcom said. “ I also love any Christmas Pentatonix song especially ‘Carol of the Bells’ and ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful.’”

Although decorating, gift giving and listening to festive music are what many people who celebrate the holiday look forward to, Marcom points out the real reason her family celebrates  Christmas.

“Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s birth and the entire story of how an angel came to Mary and told her she was going to have our Heavenly Father’s child and his name will be Jesus,” Marcom said.

During the winter months, almost everyone in the world has a reason to celebrate. Whether one is celebrating Hanukkah, Diwali, Christmas or anything in between, everyone can come together during these times for the common cause of celebration. 

“Winter is the time where people come together and spread love and it really brings humanity to light,” Marcom said.