Three Mercerians share their favorite holiday traditions Origami shapes add an elegant, unique twist to the traditional Christmas tree.

Blossom Onunekwu, Contributing Writer

Mistletoe, turkey, cupcakes, nail polish:  Mercer’s international students have unique ways of celebrating  the holiday season. We asked a few Bears about their plans for the holidays, and the potpourri of celebrations and traditions that exemplify Mercer’s diversity.

Hetu Shah

Hetu Shah, an active member of Mercer Masala, has already celebrated her version of New Year’s. Diwali is a Hindu celebration honoring a new year, and the phrase translates to the “festival of lights.”

“It is a Hindu celebration signifying the triumph of darkness by bringing forth a new slate, a new year, a new beginning for the year to come,” Shah said.

“There is a lot of traditional dancing accompanied with congratulatory sweets and family bonding time.” This year, Mercer’s newest South Asian organization, Mercer Masala, opened the celebration to all students .

“I (couldn’t) wait to let other Mercer students become immersed in (my) culture,” said Shah.

Katrina Lumban

Biochemistry major Katrina Lumban also enjoys the traditions of her indigenous Asian culture during the holiday season. Her family does not normally celebrate Thanksgiving, but Christmas is a big deal to her Filipino-Catholic family.  

“The Phillippines is the largest Catholic country in Asia, so Christmas is very important,” Lumban said.

Throughout her schooling in The Philippines, Lumban’s teachers would regale the students with Kris Kringle, the Filipino rendition of Secret Santa, every year.

However, Lumban had never thought much about Christmas gifts until she came to America after her mother remarried.

Nonetheless, the transition did not change the true meaning of Christmas to Lumban, which is family.

“My earliest memory of meeting my 4th generation cousins is through Christmas!” Lumban said.

For Lumban, the days before Christmas are a bonding time full of scary movies, face painting, doing her cousin’s nails and finally praying before digging into a traditional Filipino feast exactly at 12:00 a.m.  on Christmas Day.

Kelsey Duffey

To Irish-Catholic student Kelsey Duffey, family is extremely important on Christmas and Thanksgiving Day.  Because of her many relatives, Duffey’s family has to prepare two turkeys for two separate Thanksgiving celebrations. Every even-numbered year, members of Duffey’s mother’s family come over and bring dishes to add to the meal. On the odd years, her paternal relatives celebrate with her. On both Thanksgiving and Christmas, Duffey’s family adds a dessert party to the day’s festivities, and Duffey spends much of her time in the kitchen preparing cupcakes and adorning cakes for her family.

The end of the semester may be a season of cramming, testing and anxiety, but many Mercer students are fixated on the reward for it all: a break from school to spend with friends and family. No matter what religions or cultures make up Mercer’s student body, we can all agree that we are well prepared to celebrate the season in our own way.