With the holidays around the corner, students share Christmas traditions they had while living in their hometowns and how they are incorporating or planning to incorporate these traditions into their own families.
Honey Salima, a senior from Samoa studying hospitality and tourism management, has a 3 year old and is already incorporating her childhood Christmas traditions with her family in TVA. “I grew up in a family where Christmas is a big thing. I try to lead off of that everywhere I go.”
Salima does this by decorating her apartment for Christmas. She said, “Ever since I came here, I've always set up Christmas lights. I put up my lights the first week of November every year. I do my lights not only to be different, but also because it's something I grew up with.”
Salima said neighbors ask her why she sets up her Christmas lights before Thanksgiving. “In Samoa, we don’t have Thanksgiving so we celebrate Christmas that big. That’s a time when we express gratitude for each other through gifts.”
Only celebrating Christmas during the month of December is not long enough, she added. “Christmas is the time of the year where we exchange that love by expressing gratitude in our hearts not only within our family but for those around us.
“The center of [Christmas] is Jesus Christ. He gave us the great gift of the atonement. That’s how we should express our gratitude - with our Savior - because he gave us that gift. It's important to cherish that gift.”
Salima said the purpose of her traditions is to connect with her family and her Savior. “I love my traditions because it keeps us close as a family. It helps me to remember the importance of family and the love and relationship we have for each other and our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Cameron Carbone, a junior from Washington majoring in business administration, said he didn’t grow up with any family holiday traditions. However, when asked about the meaning of Christmas, he said, “Christmas means family.”
Carbone is engaged and plans to one day have his own family, which he has thought about creating traditions for. “It'd be fun to have your own spin on [Christmas] in order to bring you closer to your family.
“I think people are friendlier at Christmas time. Even if they're not Christmas people, I think they all get that it’s a season for family and friends. It’s a time to give gifts to show your love.”
Salima said she grew up loving Christmas and wants to pass on that love to her family. “I want them to realize the importance of having Jesus Christ as the center of our family, to recognize the greatest gift that he gave to us.”
Parallel to Salima, Savannah Baugh, a freshman from Georgia with an undecided major, expressed how she feels the Savior and family are most important during the holidays. She said, “Christmas to me means family and Jesus Christ’s birth.”
Baugh said one of her family traditions is to wear matching pajamas on Christmas Eve. She loves Christmas because “it’s time set apart to spend with just your family.”
Baugh wants to continue her current traditions with her future family. She said, “I plan on using traditions for my future family because they were such a big part of my childhood and such a fun part of my childhood that I want to do it with my family.”