Home for the Holidays

Students share holiday traditions

Isabella Pagano and Anna Beth Sheridan

Wafers, Wishes, and Waiting

On Christmas Eve, the only thing that sophomore Nicole Kozuch is allowed to eat before the first star is visible in the sky is a traditional polish wafer called Oplatki. The palm-sized wafer gets passed around to each family member and, after exchanging wishes of love and a good year ahead, everyone gets to eat their piece of wafer.

“It’s always nice, especially wishing everyone a good year, ” Kozuch said, “but sometimes it’s hard waiting for the stars to come out to get our meal.”

Kozuch isn’t sure whether it’s a Polish tradition, but she said that it has always been a tradition in her primarily Polish family. However, waiting for food isn’t the only tradition her family has.

“I’ll be like ‘Mom, can we just start eating now?’” Kozuch said. “But she’ll say no and we do ‘normal’ Christmas things like tracking Santa.”

Oodles of Stockings

Splitt’s family’s stockings. Photo provided.

Senior Maddy Splitt has a few projects ahead of her, but they are not for English or history class.

Splitt creates handmade Christmas stockings for her newest relatives, part of a tradition that started with her grandmother.

“My grandma made stockings for each of her kids, all 16 of them, and hung them up on the railings,” Splitt said. “As the grandkids, and then the great-grandkids, were born, she kept making them.”

Splitt counts the number of stockings she’ll be hanging up this year at around 72: 16 for her grandmother’s children, 36 for the grandchildren, and 20 for the great-grandchildren. The tradition serves as a testament to the memory of her grandmother, who passed away a few years ago.

“After she died, I knew we had to keep up the tradition,” Splitt said.

For the rest of her family, however, it was a bit of a surprise to see all the stockings hung on the railings of Splitt’s stairwell on the first Christmas without her grandmother.

“Seeing the family’s reaction, they weren’t expecting it,” Splitt said. “But I’m glad the tradition has continued because it’s something that everyone loves, and it’s a great way to remember my grandma.”

Meanwhile, Splitt is going to be busy making the next stockings for the newest additions.

“I make the stockings for all the new great-grandkids,” Splitt said, “so I have to make a few for the ones that were born this year.”


Rocking Around the Christmas Tree

It is standard for those who own a nativity set to give careful attention to their own ceramic rendition of baby Jesus, but the Soto family goes above and beyond when it’s time to put Jesus in the manger. When the clock strikes midnight, signaling the beginning of Christmas Day, the Sotos pass baby Jesus around in a scarf or blanket, gently “rocking him to sleep.” They pass Jesus around by age.

“They start with the youngest kids, so usually me and my cousins, and then the adults sometimes sing, which I really like,” 8th grader Julio Soto said.

This has been a tradition for many generations, and with more and more cousins on the way, it doesn’t seem like it will be ending any time soon. Julio’s sister Juliana Soto, a freshman, focuses more on the spiritual meaning.

“It’s an amazing way to express our worship of Christ,” Juliana said. “Our way of praising Him is very unique.”

A Tuba Christmas

Kate Senger, ’20, with other tuba players. Photo provided.

You’ve heard of Christmas caroling, but junior Kate Senger has her very own “Tuba Christmas,” playing Christmas carols with a group of tuba players at a local venue.

“It’s not as uncommon as you think,” Senger said. “They have one at the Palmer House in Chicago.”

Senger’s smaller version includes all the students from her private instruction class, even her teacher’s own children. She first got into Tuba Christmas when her teacher brought it up.

“It’s totally dorky,” Senger said, “but it just comes together so nicely.”

This year, Tuba Christmas will be held at Faith Lutheran Church in Antioch on December 23rd at 7 pm.