Holiday Habits

A collection of stories about students’ holiday traditions


Sophomore Luda, a boarder from Russia, watches “A Christmas Carol” at home with her mother in Russia every year for Christmas. They have both read and enjoyed the book adaptation. They watch it in English so that Luda does not lose touch with the language while away from Hockaday.

“We really like the story and think it’s very cute,” Luda said.

More uniquely, she and her mother write down wishes on slips of paper and slide them under their pillows. On Christmas morning, they pull out one piece of paper, revealing the wish that will eventually come true.

“One of my wishes that we pulled out was that I would get into Hockaday,” she said.

That is one wish that really did come true.


Junior Paige celebrates Hanukkah with her family at her cousin’s house each year by eating Jewish food such as latkes, lighting the menorah and opening presents each night.

Paige’s family does not follow the American traditional present-giving ritual, which suggests saving the biggest present for the last day. They open presents every day of Hanukkah and several more on the last day.

“My favorite part is spending time with my entire family because we are only all together a couple times a year,” Paige said.

Each year, one of her grandparents cracks a joke about decorating a “Hanukkah bush” since “Christians have their Christmas trees.”



Every year, one of sophomore Meredith’s four brothers plays a prank on Christmas morning. One of the presents he gives to a family member is a box wrapped in another box, wrapped in a another box, and wrapped in another box about eight more times.

Whoever receives this present eagerly unwraps the numerous layers, leaving a messy trail of paper behind, and are only left to discover a single dollar bill or coin once the last layer of wrapping paper has finally been ripped off.

“It is always hilarious to watch, especially that first time when we didn’t know that it was going to be, and because we don’t know who will get that present,”Meredith said.



Freshman Rajya celebrates Deepavali, the Hindu festival of lights which commemorates the return home of Deity Rama from exile, with her extended family each year. They put up lights outside of their house, and she said she and her family enjoy a large meal and a variety of Indian sweets at home.

They also send sweets to relatives and friends. To end the night, she, her family and close friends enjoy fireworks and sparklers outside their house.

“My favorite part is just having fun with family friends while lighting and playing with the sparklers,” Rajya said.



Junior Cathy, also a boarder, said she misses celebrating Christmas at home with her friends in Taiwan, since she doesn’t have the opportunity to go home over the break.

To cope with the distance, she and her friends send each other pictures and diary accounts of the year. They save their gifts for each other for the summer so that they can give them to each other in person.

“Exchanging letters and pictures are better than presents because I can see what my friends are doing,” Cathy said. “Even though I’m living abroad, I feel as if I am participating in their lives more.”