Embracing the American holidays

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Mekebib Tefferra, one of many international students at the college talked about how he spends his holidays far away from his home country of Ethiopia. Photo by Henry Lubega, The Campus Ledger.

Annie Beurman

Reporting correspondent

abeurma1@jccc.edu

Many students make sure to celebrate days like Thanksgiving and Christmas with family, food and holiday traditions. For students who were born in different countries, the American traditions don’t always come so easily.

Student Mekebib Teferra, who was born in Ethiopia, came to America three years ago. While he didn’t begin celebrating Thanksgiving until he came to America, the way Christmas is celebrated in his home country is very similar to the way it’s celebrated in the United States.

“[Ethiopians] have been Christians for the past 2000 years,”  Teferra said. “We decorate trees like the Americans and we give each other gifts. There’s a family get-together and a lot of food and sharing love with your loved ones, your parents, your children and everything.”

Teferra has enjoyed several of the American holidays ever since he came to the United States, one of his favorites being Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“As far as the American culture is concerned, every holiday is very exciting and there is a lot of celebrations and some of the holidays are really nice … it’s really good to have that experience,” Teferra said.

For student Ana Lim, who moved to America from South Korea when she was fourteen, discovering that Christmas is such a big deal in the United States was wonderful. While her family stuck more to making Korean food around the holidays, Lim introduced them to the tradition of putting presents under the tree.

One of the bigger holidays in Korea is New Year’s Eve, which they call Lunar New Year.

“We love making this rice cake soup,” Lim said. “In Korea, traditionally you believe that you have to have this soup every New Year to get a year older. It’s interesting because age, in Korea they count it differently … You’re one year the moment you’re born so your age is a year or two older than you are here. Every New Year you gain one more year.”

Though her parents are Brazilian, student Rebekah Lodos grew up in the United Kingdom until almost five years ago. When it comes to Christmas, Lodos and her family have always celebrated it according to Brazilian tradition.

“We do Christmas Eve celebrations so we have all of my family come over to my house … everyone gets dressed up … [we] do our makeup, cook dinner and we eat dinner … a little before midnight and at midnight everyone gets to open their presents,” Lodos said.

Though she has lived in America for a few years, Lodos doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving even though she has before.

“I had an American friend cook me a Thanksgiving dinner once before I moved here,” Lodos said. “I discovered casseroles and weird stuff like sweet potatoes with marshmallows and stuff like that I didn’t know about, so that was interesting.”

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