Holiday traditions around Amador

AVJ takes a look into how students will be celebrating this winter season.

No matter where we come from, everyone has their own special way of celebrating the holidays. Below, take a glance at some features of four unique holidays.

Frohe Weihnachten

As a foreign exchange student from Munich, Germany, Jan Schullerus (‘24) has yet to experience traditional American customs during the holidays. However, he has experienced some unique German traditions that are eye-opening to the average American.

“In Germany, we celebrate ‘Frohe Weihnachten’, also known as Christmas in America,” said Schullerus.

The comparison between traditions in Germany and America are fairly similar, but a couple of differences stand out, including when people receive their gifts.

“The main difference between Germany and America in Christmas is we get gifts on the 24th of December, whereas Americans receive gifts on the morning of Christmas. We also have something called the adventskalender which is basically a calendar with 24 doors, and there’s always chocolate or some sort of treat to get,” said Schullerus

In contrast to the traditional American Christmas meal with eggnog, mashed potatoes, and turkey, Frohe Weihnachten feasts will often be centered around something different. 

“My family is originally from Romania, so we don’t make the traditional Christmas foods. So, my dad always makes Romanian Sausages, but many people in Germany eat goose as their main dish,” said Schullerus

The annual Christmas dinner is looked forward to by many families celebrating, as it represents the unification of all attending as a family on such a special holiday. Outside of the family gatherings, Germany is known for their extravagant Christmas parties held by many local companies and organizations. 

“Club sports, including soccer and handball, and even some companies have parties on Christmas where all family and friends are invited. These parties are always a blast to attend,” said Schullerus

Christmas is celebrated all around the world, with several cultures and traditions being integrated into the festive holiday. While Jan Schullerus certainly misses Christmas back home in Germany, he can’t wait to experience the same holiday in an entirely new atmosphere in America.

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  • After a grand Christmas morning feast with his family, Jan Schellerus (’24) attends church to be greeted with extravagant decorations and members of his community.

  • Jan Schellurus (’24) celebrates Christmas morning in Germany surrounded by his loved ones by enjoying delicious fruit bowls made by his mother.


Although Christmas is usually the dominant holiday in December, Hanukkah has it’s own beautiful traditions that need to be brought to light. This year, Lian Noble and her family will be doing a traditional Hanukkah celebration. 

¨My family, we hold hands and say prayer, then we sing after that,¨ said Lian Noble (’24).

These special events that only happen at this time are for people to be brought closer together, especially a family. Along with all these traditions, many people also play old games in order to celebrate during this time. The famous game played with a dreidel was originally used for Jewish people to continue studying their religion in peace.

The holidays allow for many baked treats to be presented after dinner. (Ellie Cheng)

¨Children would quickly take out their spinning tops and some coins and explain that they were just playing games,¨ said Noble.

Although this was simply a trick against the Greek, people all around the world have changed and nurtured this game into something beautiful that is now a popular tradition in Hanukkah. After the games and prayers, they hold a beautiful feast full of different foods and dishes. 

¨We eat mostly fried food, basically anything that’s cooked in oil, so something like donuts is what we’ll eat,¨ said Noble.

Oil holds a special place in the hearts of people who celebrate Hanukkah, because traditionally, a small amount of oil was placed in the first menorah ever, and it miraculously burned for 8 days and 8 nights. 

Since Hanukkah is quite a big holiday, Lian and her family try to make this as big of an event as Christmas, and they celebrate it with their whole family. 

¨We usually invite our cousins and a bit of our extended family, so around five families including mine each year,¨ said Noble.

Sikh celebrations

Many Sikh people around the world tend to spend their holidays with family, but choosing to incorporate their own special traditions that make their celebrations unique. Taj Jawanda (‘23) describes the festivities during the holiday season in which his family participates. 

Taj Jawanda (’23) prepares for his annual Christmas celebration by decorating his Christmas tree and gathering all the presents with his family. (Taj Jawanda)

“In addition to our annual holiday family reunion, we also take time to recollect and embrace the sacrifices of the two Sahibzade, which were the two older princes/sons of the spiritual master of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. The remembrance takes place in late December,” said Jawanda

The annual sacrifices described are a major part of the Sikh religion that generally occurs around this time of year. As great as these traditions may seem, the iconic foods in each household are the highlight of the holidays. 

“During the holiday season, we usually like to incorporate a little bit of everything to satisfy each other’s taste buds. However, the two dishes that always make an appearance at the dining table are my mom’s homemade casserole and my grandmother’s signature apple pie,” said Jawanda.

The delicious treats and large family reunions contribute to holiday anticipation of ending the semester with finals to kick off a memorable winter break.

“The onset of Christmas brings a great deal of exhilaration within our household. As soon as the calendar shifts to the first day of December, the highly anticipated wait starts to cool off, and that’s when things start to really ramp up,” said Jawanda.

This upcoming holiday season is especially important for many, considering we all missed out on last year’s festivities due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now that the world is more open compared to last year, families have more comfort with attending their annual holiday gatherings to reconnect with loved ones.


Although there is the natural, traditional holiday that people know and love, the students of Amador express their beautiful and ethnic diversities in many different ways. 

“Since our house is an Asian immigrant house, we don’t have the traditional Christmas celebration, but we incorporate Japanese and Chinese practices into it,” said Ellie Cheng (‘23).

Along with common Christmas foods such as turkey, mashed potatoes, and Christmas cookies, Ellie and her family incorporate Japanese-style food into their annual Christmas dinner. 

“We have Japanese food, and Chinese food, which is like a really big deal for us along with some of the more traditional Christmas food,” said Cheng.

Traditional Japanese food makes its way into all sorts of traditions and holidays. (Kazuya Yasui)

Although this seems like the type of celebration that would be shared with a large group of people, they have a different way of spending time with each other. Due to this, the pandemic never really affected them too much. 

“We are a really private family, so we tend to just spend Christmas with our own family, maybe just inviting over our close family, but that’s the most,” said Cheng.

Even though they don’t usually spend Christmas with too many people, the pandemic was more than enough to make a noticeable difference in how they celebrated the holidays. From outside to inside, some things changed for all families, including Ellie’s.

“We couldn’t go to church last year due to the pandemic, and that kinda sucked, but we still got to celebrate Christmas the same for the most part,” said Cheng.

Even though they couldn’t go all out last year for various reasons, this year they are going to go all out to celebrate Christmas in their style. With Christmas being celebrated in many different ways all around the world, this year’s holidays are going to be a beautiful one.