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Cultural clubs foster holiday spirit with different celebrations and traditions

KK Hanner, news editor

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The holiday season creates a flurry of excitement among students. BG is proud to have many cultural clubs that represent students and their heritage and that seek to teach others their stories. The holiday season isn’t solely limited to the American celebrations. It represents different cultures with special traditions and customs.

The German Club celebrates the holidays by annually attending a school field trip to the Christkindlmarket in Chicago. There, they get to practice their German with many of the native German speaking venders and can experience different traditions, such as wooden carvings, glass blown ornaments and hand knitted gloves and scarves.

“Christmas markets are really important in Germany and last the whole month of December,” German teacher Julie Santeford said. “Millions of tourists visit the markets every year, especially at big cities and they reflect a big part of the culture.”

German Club also celebrates by simply teaching students different holiday traditions in Germany. They learn about Krampus, St. Nicholas day and Christmas by watching short clips on the celebrations. Many German traditions are also celebrated in America.

“It’s interesting for students to realize that their traditions are actually of German origin, such as the Christmas tree,” Santeford said.

Aside from German club, the newly created Jewish Student Connection Club brings even more spirit to the holiday season at BG with their celebration of Chanukah. Those who celebrate light candles, play traditional games, eat food and exchange presents.

According to Jon Olbur, creator of Jewish Connection Club they are planning on playing fun Chanukah games and eating chocolate and potato pancakes.

“The holiday season reflects our culture because it shows how important feeling a part of a community is for our religion and it also shows some great examples of the music and traditions that we have,” Olbur said.

It’s  important to remember other winter holidays, especially since they may be overshadowed by Christmas on many different markets across the country. T.V. specials, Christmas decor being sold on Halloween and even Starbucks coffee cups makes Christmas appeal to a larger audience. As a result, many students be unfamiliar with differing traditions.

”We created this club to educate others that aren’t familiar with Judaism and to connect others with other people in the community that are Jewish. It’s important to teach others about our culture during the holiday season because a lot of people don’t know a lot about Judaism and the holidays are a great example of how the culture is,” Olbur said.

While it is important to understand the significance of any celebration, it is also important to understand lack of celebration. Despite not having a winter holiday, some cultures still choose to celebrate. People many celebrate the holidays for non-religious reasons as well, as a way to embrace the celebrations without compromising their beliefs.

“When my parents came to America, they wanted to raise us in what they thought of as an American household,” Helen Ni, South Asian Student club member said. “Celebrating holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving allowed us to seem more like our neighbors or families on T.V., which I believe is an important part in any immigrant culture.”

South Asian student club doesn’t have plans to celebrate in the winter since there aren’t any traditional South Asian holidays in the winter. Many traditional holidays in South Asian are celebrated in the summer, however, many members participate in winter activities.

“I don’t think that every culture should be expected to celebrate what we think of as traditional American winter holidays,” Niu said. “However, as an Asian American, I’ve seen many non-traditional takes on holiday traditions that I feel is becoming more common nowadays as families become more untraditional and diverse.”

While many cultures bring different traditions to our melting pot, not all bring traditions during the winter season.  Luckily, the cultural clubs at BG provide a diverse and safe environment to learn and celebrate traditions throughout the entire year.

“We teach students how to celebrate, not necessarily to celebrate,” Santeford said. “It’s important to learn the traditions of any culture.”

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