With Thanksgiving break coming up and Christmas break following shortly after, many students are preparing to go home for the holidays. Others are not able to travel.
Many students, particularly international students, cannot travel home, and because they do not celebrate Thanksgiving and many do not celebrate Christmas, they have alternative plans for the winter breaks.
Muhammad Armine Yaakoubi, a freshman economics major from Tunisia, is planning on traveling to New York and Washington, D.C., next week for Thanksgiving break.
As it is his first year in America, Yaakoubi said he is excited about seeing American Thanksgiving festivities. Because his culture does not celebrate Christmas, he is planning a “West Coast road trip” to California.
Yaakoubi said he still enjoys the Christmas season and all of the decorations and celebrations.
“I think it’s a beautiful thing,” he said.
The New Year’s celebration in Tunisia is the equivalent of the American Christmas season, with its emphasis on family and food.
Victoria Sabinina, a junior journalism major from Ukraine, is celebrating Thanksgiving with family in Miami.
Because she comes from a family that celebrates Christmas, she is traveling home for the break in a few weeks.
She said her traditional celebration is “almost like Americans’,” with 12 traditional dishes and the focus on family. Sabinina said that the New Year’s celebration is more important than Christmas; gifts are exchanged on New Year’s instead, but it is “all one big family holiday.”
Madina Seytmuradoua, a freshman history major from Turkmenistan, does not celebrate Christmas, but she said that the New Year’s celebration in Turkmenistan has traditions similar to American Christmas.
Ded Moroz, translated into “Grandfather Frost,” is much like Santa Claus; he travels around on New Year’s Eve with his granddaughter on a sleigh to deliver presents.
Seytmuradoua celebrated Thanksgiving at the International Thanksgiving dinner
on campus earlier this week.
“Thanksgiving is a good holiday for what it means, but it has weird origins,” she said.
Seytmuradoua likes Thanksgiving because “it is like a big family reunion for all Americans.”
Aaron Hagler, an assistant professor of history from Montgomery, is celebrating a traditional American Thanksgiving.
Next month, he will be celebrating Hanukkah with his family in accordance to his Jewish faith. He is looking forward to enjoying traditional stories, food and games with his family.
According to Hagler, Hanukkah is actually a “minor holiday” that receives recognition only because it happens to be around the same time as Christmas.
There are many opportunities around campus to learn about different cultures, and the holiday season is no exception; there is more learning to do outside the classroom as well as inside.