Same Christmas Day, Different Traditions

Students share a snippet of their holiday customs

Christmas lights illuminate holiday celebrations across the warm houses in the valley. Peering into each house, you could see families in matching pajamas, children peering up at the tree, and cookies fresh out the oven. It is finally the one night of the year, when families no matter where they are from, can join together to celebrate in their own special way. What makes it more significantly beautiful is when those traditions can be brought to our little valley in Utah.

Paról hanging in the window (Kyle Ocampo)

At the Ocampo house, junior Kyle Ocampo has been walking around his home filled with a Filipino Christmas decoration called Paról since September. The ornamental lantern symbolizes the victory of light over darkness that would guide Ocampo and his family through the holiday season. With the reminder of hope and goodwill, the red, orange, and yellow glow seated right by the window warms the Sandy neighborhood in the midst of the frosty night.

For senior Jag Gill-Martin, the Christmas evening looks a little different. Living in an Indian household, Christmas was a holiday for Christians. With that said, it does not stop a period of celebration and a chance to party. His family’s laugh and music fill his house while they share this time together. To celebrate the holidays, the Gill-Martin family gathers together by throwing big parties and consuming rich-flavored Indian food. This food happens to be the most important part of his cultural tradition. 

Food happens to be a defining part of sophomore Bea Pascual’s Christmas celebration as well. Living right down the street from the Ocampo’s another house is filled with traditional Filipino food such as lumpia, or eggrolls, pancit bihon, chicken adobo, and Lechon.  The crunch from the fried lumpia placed next to the paper plate of adobo and pancit would be heard all around the room as celebrations continued far into the morning. Running on ‘Filipino Time’, the Pascual family celebrates this special night without a single other care in the world. 

Traditional Filipino dishes (Consuelo Sumampong)

 For another family across the city, when the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Eve, senior Eliana Moreno gathers her family to open Christmas presents. With tired eyes but hearts filled with adrenaline, the small family of four takes their presents and opens them one by one. This small tradition they have kept close to their heart purely stems from the wholehearted excitement that comes with Before long, the early hours of the morning wrap around them and they drift off to sleep, with stomachs full and the cool air wrapped around.

Christmas may look different this year. Jag may not be able to have that big family celebration that he usually does. Eliana will have to celebrate with her grandparents on the phone. But luckily, the one aspect that is not lost in their culture, which will continue to invigorate them and our community for years to come.