Manchester University
Oak Leaves

November 30, 2018

Students Look Forward to Holiday Festivities, Traditions

Samantha Bontrager


Traditions change over time within relationships, families, communities and even lifetimes. Manchester is full of students from all different backgrounds, which means all different kinds of traditions. Coming into this holiday season, four Manchester students offered their insight and personal experiences with traditions surrounding the holidays.

First-year Kyle Bailey, from Anderson, Indiana, has what seems to be a more traditional holiday experience for most people in this part of the country. Him and his family gather at his grandparents’ house and have dinner and family bonding time. “I look forward to the food the most,” said Bailey. “It’s going to be nice to go home this year since I’ve been gone from homecooked meals for so long.”

Many first-years on campus seem to have the same mindset – going home for the holidays means good home-cooked meals.  This can also be seen with sophomore Gen Malin, from Greenville, Ohio, who said Christmas in her family is the holiday celebration to be at. Her family participates in a white elephant gift exchange at her grandmother’s house every Christmas. “The older cousins and the adults all buy a gift under twenty dollars to bring. We all draw numbers out of a hat to figure out the order of picking gifts,” said Malin. Although it may seem that it’s all about the gifts, Gen said that it’s really about the time spent with family – and of course, the food.

Ally Jarvis, a junior at Manchester from Coloma, Michigan, said an annual family trip is in order for her this holiday season. “We always go out to Hastings, Nebraska to visit my mom’s side of the family,” said Jarvis. An eleven-hour road trip makes for some good memories for the Jarvis family each year.

Each family has a different set of memories and annual rituals and with the holiday season is right around the corner, senior Meagan O’Campo from Decatur, Indiana, is looking forward to her own unique holiday experience.

O’Campo celebrates the holidays with her father’s side of the family on Christmas Eve. The scent of fresh rice and tortillas fill the air and plates loaded full of traditional Mexican food line the tables at her grandmother’s. “Then on Christmas morning, we celebrate and open presents with our immediate families and then it’s back to Grandma’s for Mexican leftovers from the evening before,” said O’Campo.

As for her mother’s side, they wait to celebrate Christmas on New Year’s Day. Pork and dumplings with a side of sauerkraut is in order for the second Christmas meal. “The sauerkraut has a German tradition tied to it that said even one bite makes for good luck for the whole year, so even if you don’t like it, find a spoon and take a bite,” she said.

Traditions may change over time, but the one thing that will remain constant for many students is the importance of being with their families around the holidays.