Students shine light on misrepresented holidays


Sarah Besser (11) and her family pose in front of their five lit menorahs on the eighth night of Hanukkah 2021

  It is not hard to find ornaments, or tinsel, or anything else Christmas related during this time of year. When every store, restaurant and Chick-fil-A is closed on Christmas day it may seem as if the whole world is celebrating Christmas. According to some students at VHHS, there are many other holidays that aren’t as much talked about or represented in mass media. 

  One of those holidays being Nikolaustag, a German holiday that marks the birthday of Saint Nikolaus, Bishop of Myra (known today as Turkey). One specific Nikolaustag tradition is for the children to shine and polish their shoes then leave them outside their front door the night of December 5th and while they are asleep St. Nikolaus visits and fills them up with goodies. Sona Saran (11), who celebrates Nikolaustag with her family every year, recounts looking forward to this tradition as a kid.

   “I remember being so excited when my feet would grow because I get bigger shoes to put stuff in,” said Saran. 

  According to Saran not a lot of people know that the holiday of Nikolaustag even exists. She says she never really hears anybody talk about the holiday.

  Another holiday that typically falls around the same time as Christmas is the Jewish eight day festival of lights, Hanukkah. Sarah Besser (11) and her family take part in classic traditions every year such as lighting the Menorah and eating latkes, fried potato pancakes, traditionally prepared on Hanukkah. However, Besser feels as though some people think that Hanukkah is just the Jewish equivalent of Christmas. According to Besser, a lot of people know what the holiday is, but don’t have a grasp on what the holiday is truly about.

   “I feel like a lot of people understand the sense of ‘Oh, it’s Hanukkah, it’s eight days,’ but I don’t think they understand what it truly is and what it’s a celebration of.” 

   The celebration of Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the second Holy Temple in Jerusalem after it was destroyed by their Greek-Syrian oppressors. The Jewish people eat fried foods and light the menorah for eight nights to commemorate the miracle of the oil burning for a whole eight nights.  

   In an anonymous survey with 92 responses, 81.1% of people said they celebrate Christmas, 6.7% said they celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas, 8.9% said they celebrate just Hanukkah, and 3.3% said they celebrate another holiday besides Christmas and Hanukkah. The results of the survey are a reflection of the fact that most of the country celebrates Christmas. The survey results are an accurate reflection of how much of our society celebrate other holidays besides Christmas. Reasonably, Christmas is more represented in the media because most people celebrate it.

   There are some students who believe the religious aspects of Christmas are diminished by the media’s driven focus on how they can profit off of the holiday. These students are bothered by the fact that popularity surrounding the holiday is driven by mass commercialism.

    Jeffrey Broms (12) believes that although the issue of whether Christmas is properly represented in the media and isn’t a very imperative issue, he will continue to celebrate the holiday according to his tradition. Broms stated that he believes that the religious significance of Christmas is often overlooked by some. According to Broms the religious connotations of Christmas are commonly misportrayed.

  “I do think that Christmas is often seen in a consumerist and secular light, and this can be reductive of the sanctity of the date.”