With Christmas just around the corner, this is a time of celebration and traditions both new and old. Christmas has been celebrated a little bit differently each year, but there are always the time-old traditions that remain constant, and as I am learning, the new traditions that my friends and I make together.
When I was younger, Christmas meant a family trip to my aunt’s house a few hours away, where we’d go to mass on Christmas Eve, and then drive around her neighborhood, looking at all of the Christmas lights together. We’d then wake up very early Christmas Day, open presents, and then call our international family members and share the Christmas joy with our (very large) extended family. Our Christmas had both Nigerian and American influences, as we had a lot of delicious cultural food, as well as spent time together singing carols (my favorite one being the title of this blog) and watching Christmas movies as a family. Christmas was a time of joy, and minimal worries, and presents.
As I got older, Christmas still meant a family trip to visit my aunt and her family, but I always had midterms after winter break, so I had to bring my books and study during the festivities. This tainted the celebrations a little bit because I was often too busy or stressed out to sing carols with the family, or truly enjoy the holiday. It was too easy for me to zone out during the celebrations, and focus instead on the upcoming exams.
At Hopkins, the Christmas season starts with finals, so preparations for the holiday include a mixture of studying, as well as creating new traditions with close friends. Not only are we bonding over the stress of finals, but we try to incorporate the happiness of the season into our lives on campus.Hopkins helps a lot with the blend of the season and exam period by providing a lot of outlets to celebrate the Christmas season and relieve the natural stress of exams. The most cherished tradition was the Lighting of the Quads, a time when the entire Hopkins community gathered on Gilman quad and was treated to the spectacular show of fireworks and saw the Christmas lights simultaneously go up all around campus.
Not only did Hopkins as a community celebrate Christmas, but a few of my friends have completely decorated their halls with Christmas lights, cutout snowflakes, and even a 5-foot Christmas tree in their room! Others emulate the natural Christmas scents with festive air fresheners and have beautiful holiday decorations all over their room. To de-stress, a friend and I often had impromptu “jam-sessions”, where we just sang songs, and relaxed, enjoying eachother’s company. To celebrate my friend’s birthday, some of us went to Hampden for a night out, and enjoyed the unique spirit of the little neighborhood, exploring the shops, and visiting the tourist stops along the way.
I am still looking forward to the trip to my aunt’s house, but it’s extremely comforting to know that this year, and in the years to come, Christmas will have meaning of renewal and celebration, because now not only will I be able to truly enjoy the season with my family, but I now have lasting traditions with my friends.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, from my family to yours!