Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah

Longhorn Life caught up with a few students to find out which fall holidays they celebrate and how.

December 25, 2012

Christmas is one of the largest celebrated holidays in the nation. This Christian holiday commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ to the Virgin Mary. According to the Old Testament, Jesus was born in a stable in the town of Bethlehem and received gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh from “three kings” coming to welcome the new king of the Jews. It has also become a widely celebrated cultural holiday for many, including individuals of other religions.

Jasymne Alexander
English and African diaspora studies senior 
Age: 22 
Religious background: nondenominational Christian

“We go to church where there is usually some type of special program and then have dinner afterward. It gives me a chance to enjoy and appreciate the sacrifices God has made for his children and allows me to spend time with extended family.”

Brandon Major
social work senior
Age: 23
Religious background: Agnosticism

“My family and I have the same Christmas traditions as everyone else, just minus the celebration of Jesus’ birth and going to church. My favorite part is waking up early to look at the Christmas tree and waiting for everyone else to get up. It’s really the only time of year when I’m eager to wake up early.”

Eid ul-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
October 26, 2012

Eid-ul-Adha is known as the day of sacrifice, in which Muslims sacrifice animals as a sacrifice to God out of gratitude. According to the Quran, this offering is meant to symbolize Islamic prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his first-born son Ishmael to show his love for God.

Midhat Patel
biology honors senior
Age: 20
Religious background: Islam

“The day usually starts with a morning prayer. Then throughout the day families eat, go from house to house and then eat some more. Traditionally elder family members and friends give younger members money, termed Eidi, in honor of the celebration.”

Diwali (Festival of Lights)
November 13, 2012

Diwali is one of the most important Hindu holidays. This five-day festival is the celebration of many events, including of the return of Rama - a deity of their God Vishnu - after being exiled to the jungle for 14 years. 

Swati Verma
plan II biology senior
Age: 21
Religious background: Hinduism

“Diwali is like the equivalent to the Western New Year’s. Families get together to celebrate and further strengthen their ties to each other and God. Typically candles are lit, and all of the lights are left on to make the home more inviting for Rama. Many sweets are eaten, and gifts are exchanged during a fireworks show.”

Hanukkah (Festival of Lights)
December 8 to Dec. 16, 2012 

Hanukkah celebrates the Jewish defeat of the invading Greek army in second century B.C., which sought to destroy the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. According to popular belief, after the battle there was only enough oil for the menorah to burn for one day. Miraculously it lasted for eight days, further signifying this modern-day commemoration.

Jennifer Tribble
chemistry and microbiology senior
Age: 20
Religious background: reform Judaism

“Traditionally most families make latkes [fried potato pancakes]. Some also play a game called dreidel, where you spin the dreidel and receive prizes based on which side it lands on. Gifts are also given each night as a new candle on the menorah is lit.”

Aaron Liener
Hebrew language and literature junior
Age: 21
Religious background: modern orthodox Judaism

“To share our joy, each night we light our menorah and place it in our windowsill. As they are lit, special holiday songs are recited to commemorate the victory. Special holiday treats are also enjoyed, including latkes, sufganiyot [jelly donuts] and gelt [chocolate coins].”