Acknowledging the Diversity of Holiday Celebrations on Campus

By Alissa Chooljian, Staff Writer

Photo Source: Blog iMocha

Names of some students within this article have been changed to protect the anonymity of sources. 

The University of Toronto sports a multicultural campus, with over 28% of its student body composed of international students. This means that the upcoming holiday season will also emphasize the value of learning about and acknowledging the numerous ways each student and their loved ones spend time and celebrate over the holidays.

Each student differs in their perspective surrounding the winter break and upcoming holiday celebrations. Some think more of material aspects, like food and gifts, while others can’t wait to see their families or partake in annual traditions with the people they care about. All these perspectives fuse to create one holiday vision: a time to unite and share love, happiness, and maybe a little hot cocoa with friends and family.

To better understand how different students at UofT celebrate the holidays, the Trinity Times reached out to numerous students of various cultural backgrounds through correspondence interviews. 

Reem, a first-year Armenian-Jordanian student, commented that “all holidays are important to the cultures that celebrate it because it delivers them a special feeling. Holidays spread the feeling of warmth between one another and brings us closer together no matter what culture you’re from.” 

Speaking with Joanna, a first year Palestinian-Filipino student, the Trinity Times heard another perspective. She said that “although my family celebrates Christmas, I think it’s important that we learn about other celebrations because they’re all equally important.” 

Michael, an international student, said that to him, the holiday season “brings a hope for relaxation and renewal” along with “thinking about what is to come.” 

Yinling, a second-year, Taiwanese international student, specified that to her, the holiday season means: “Hot chocolate, couch, and Netflix.” 

Along with differing ways of celebration, UofT students also celebrate the holidays at varying times. Lorie, a third-year student, highlighted that “as an orthodox Christian, I celebrate Christmas on January 6, but still see December 25 as a very special day.” She added that both days are spent with friends and family “around a large table”, where they “spread the joy of the season and birth of Jesus Christ through delicious meals and warm wishes.” Many other students celebrate the holidays through other cultural and religious events instead of Christmas, such as Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the Chinese New Year. 

Regardless of what the winter break and its encompassed holidays mean to UofT students, it shall be filled with merriment, laughter, and joy—a time to be grateful for what we have, a time to hold hope for what will come.

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