Culture Latest Issue

December 5, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Cultural Christmas

By Paulo Acuna

Parties, good food, long nights. The holidays are a special time all over the world. It is a time when families are reunited and reflect on what has been a long year, along with being hopeful for what lies ahead. Different people have different traditions and customs, and Marquette is a melting pot where people come together with these customs.

Shannon Harvey, a junior in the College of Education, is originally from Evanston, Ill. Celebrating Christmas in her family is an all-out party, Harvey says. She was raised Catholic, and alongside her family, attends mass on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and afterward, they all gather for exquisite dinners.

“I love the holiday season because it brings my family together. We celebrate at home and then go see my family in New York and have a second Christmas with them, where my dad takes a tree from the side of the road,” Harvey says. ”I also love the holidays because of the food…and there’s just something magical about drinking hot chocolate on a cold day by the fire.”

Not too far from her hometown lives Lauren Escobar, a sophomore in the College of Communication. Escobar is of Mexican descent and was born and raised in Chicago.

“I’ve assimilated well to American culture given that my mother and I were both born here,” Escobar says. “However, I haven’t lost my roots.”

Her family’s Thanksgiving celebrations offer traditional American food and customs. For the holiday season, Escobar says her family loves it.

“We make good food, while also mixing in customs and foods from other cultures,” Escobar says.

Down in the Caribbean, in Puerto Rico, Rosanna De Luca, a junior in the College of Business Administration, enjoys the holiday season in the land of warm climate and tropical beaches.

“Growing up in an Italian family living in Puerto Rico, my holiday celebrations tend to be a little different than normal,” De Luca says. “Also, having family on the East Coast whom I visit for the Christmas season also spices things up.”

De Luca flies to the East Coast to spend time with her relatives, but before she leaves, she makes sure to welcome the holiday season, Puerto Rican style.

“The holidays are spent eating greasy and fried foods and lots of festive parties and drinking,” De Luca says. “We have our own, better version of eggnog, island style (coconut flavored). To this day, actually, I’ve never tried traditional eggnog. So all of these Puerto Rican festive activities are brought to me courtesy of my friends and school social scope. My Italian family can’t cook up rice and beans, let alone lechón. My home is filled with yummy Italian Christmas treats and lots of card playing.”

She remembers how her family only began to put up a Christmas tree three years ago. It is something common in Puerto Rican households, whereas in Italy, you might find some decorations here and there, but never anything incredible.

According to data from the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis at Marquette, 3 percent of the freshman class entering in the fall of 2013 practice a  faith outside of Christianity.

“I’m originally from China, so when I go back home in December, there are not very many holidays,” says Lina Yin, a freshman in the College of Business Administration. “I meet up with my family and my friends from grade school.”

But in late January or early February, the celebration of the Chinese New Year is huge.

“One of the best things is the firework show,” Yin says. “There are a lot of them in many different colors, and it’s spectacular. It’s one of the best times of the year.”

Similar to a New Year’s celebration in America, at night, Yin and her family sit down at a table fit to sit nearly 12-13 people and have dinner with extended family.

“We get presents, from money to new clothes,” Yin says. “We play chess or cards. It’s always a fun time to ring in the New Year.”

Local foods, music and traditions are staples of the holiday season. Whether you’re an hour away from Marquette, or you take a 10-hour plane ride to get home, a well-deserved break after the busy semester is all the better when reunited with family and friends. Share those moments that made your year special, while hoping the new year will bring even better memories to share.