Honoring Heritage this Holiday Season

Photo Caption: Kayleigh Hackett displays her dress in her performance of Irish Step dance in 2013.

Photo Caption: Kayleigh Hackett displays her dress in her performance of Irish Step dance in 2013.

     The holiday season brings a lot more than presents. It’s also a time for family traditions and friends during this happy and festive time of year. As many celebrate Christmas it is important to recognize others may celebrate other holidays, just as merry and bright. 

     In Jewish culture, Hanukkah, meaning “dedication” in Hebrew, is an eight-day celebration involving music, food, gift, games, and the lighting of the Menorah. 

     The lighting of the eight candles on the Menorah symbolizes the number of days that the Temple lantern blazed and the ninth candle on the Menorah is the helping candle used to light the other candles. 

     Senior Jordan LaRocca states, “I’ve been doing it all my life. The first night you light the shamash first, recite the Hanukkah Blessing, then light the candle to the right then light another candle going to the left…it used to be argued which way we do it and we said if we lit all the candles then took one out each night, that would decrease the holiness instead of increasing it.”

     With food like latkes, songs like Maoz Tzur, and games like the Dreidel, the atmosphere of Hanukkah provides unity and great memories.

     While January first signifies a new year, in Haiti, it signifies the country’s independence. Haiti celebrates the declaration of independence from France. The day is filled with fireworks, parades, food, dancing, and more. More specifically, Haiti celebrates with their culture’s soup, Soup Joumou. 

     Soup Joumou dates back to the colonization of Haiti. French masters were the only ones allowed to eat the soup, which signified good fortune, but forbade slaves from eating it. After the country’s victory and freedom, a Haitian emperor gave the slaves a chance to eat the soup as a message to show they won. 

     Junior Sidney Jean-Baptiste states, “On New Year’s we celebrate with Soup Joumou which is basically pumpkin and beef soup with many vegetables, potatoes, and more. The soup brings my family together and really makes me grateful for being a part of the Haitian culture.”

     Kayleigh Hackett, a senior at Foran, describes her heritage. 

     “Holidays are a big thing in Ireland, where my family is from. Growing up, I always had a lot of fun with the large community of Irish people my family and I were connected with. For example, growing up, my Irish dance teachers always threw a party for my dance class where we would listen to Irish Christmas music and do fun Irish Christmas dances together.”

     She describes her biggest influences being both her family and community. 

     “My mom is really involved with the local Irish community. This year they’re not doing much because of the pandemic but typically there’s a banquet to celebrate the end of the Gaelic sports season. We’re involved in a lot of the big Irish groups nearby.” 

     The holidays are celebrated by many in different ways. At the end of the day, despite our different backgrounds, it is filled with people who surround themselves with love and festivity.