Continuing our week long look at different holiday traditions, celebrations, and customs, today we're looking at the ethnic and cultural influence on holiday celebrations. If you've missed any of our holiday interviews, it's not too late to get caught up! And fill us in on what your holiday celebration looks like...
"This time of the year, my family celebrates Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We typically end our Holiday season on January 6th, which is Three Kings Day. When we were younger, my siblings and I would put hay in front of our bedroom doors. We did this so the “Three Kings” would come and take the hay to feed their camels. In exchange for the hay, the Three Kings would leave each one of us a gift. My family did this part for years until we started to get older. As of now, we normally just have a family dinner on Three Kings Day to end the holiday season. The Christmas tree and decorations are usually up until the day after Three Kings Day."
IF AND WHEN YOU HAVE A FAMILY OF YOUR OWN DO YOU THINK YOU'LL CONTINUE THE SAME TRADITIONS?
"Absolutely! I have always loved this time of the year ever since I was a child. There is just something about it that gives me a great feeling inside. Sadly, I do not get to see other family members now as I did back then. The extended family would get together often during this time of the year with family parties. It was always a great time. I want to make sure that whenever I have a family that these traditions will be passed down. I am hoping I can bring back the spark to the holiday season with my own family."
WHAT'S THE ETHNIC MAKE UP OF YOUR FAMILY? DOES THAT ETHNICITY AND HERITAGE HAVE AN INFLUENCE DURING THE HOLIDAYS?
"The make-up of my family is mainly Puerto Rican, though we have different culture backgrounds within the extended family. We're a pretty diverse family. I'd say our Puerto Rican background does have an influence during the holidays mainly because of the spanish food we eat during them. With Three Kings Day, many Hispanics celebrate it especially if their religion is Catholic. I know many non-Hispanic Catholics that celebrate it as well, though, it may be celebrated differently."
WHAT KIND OF SPECIAL FOOD AND DRINKS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH YOUR CELEBRATION (FOR THREE KINGS DAY)?
"We typically have spanish and american food. For the spanish side, we'll have arroz con gandules (spanish style rice w/pigeon peas), pernil (pork butt/shoulder), pasteles (similar to tameles), and coquito (puerto rican egg nog). For the american side, we'll have turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and different vegetables. It sometimes changes, but all the stuff mentioned is what we'll normally have during the holidays, including Three Kings Day."
SO, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY, APART FROM ALL THAT YUMMY FOOD, IS THE BEST GIFT YOU EVER RECEIVED FOR THE HOLIDAYS?
"I can honestly say that the best gift I've ever received- and this may sound cliché- is being able to celebrate the holidays with my family every year. Celebrating with my family during holidays every year so far in my life has been a blessing because not everyone gets to do that with their own. I don't remember many of the gifts I've received when I was younger -mainly toys. Now that I'm older, I appreciate being with my family, though money, gift cards to places I like, or books (*especially on education) never hurt."
*Eddie is an Elementary Education major at Millersville University.