PENNSYLVANIA – Christmas is one of my favorite holidays, but it’s also the one that confuses me the most.
My family’s heritage is a mix of Eastern European countries, all of which celebrate Christmas on different days, according to their respective Orthodox calendars. This begs the question of when we should celebrate Christmas.
This year, my family decided that we are going to celebrate American Christmas with aspects of Russian and Eastern European culture integrated into the holiday. By attending church services at a local Ukrainian church with my immediate family on Christmas Eve, I am able to connect with my father’s Ukrainian heritage.
On Christmas Day, my sister and I take charge of preparing our Christmas feast, filled with Armenian delicacies, paying homage to my mother’s heritage. We’ll have an Armenian Napoleon cake (layers of pastry dough with a sweet, creamy filling), ham, and Olivia salad, which is a classic Russian/Armenian salad.
Of course, we’ll include an American tradition my family has adopted, making classic Christmas cookies. Even though only my immediate family will celebrating Christmas this December 25, I will have the opportunity to celebrate Russian Orthodox Christmas on January 7 at boarding school with my friends from Russia.
The merging of different cultures over the holidays gives my family and me the chance to create new traditions for the years to come.
All my favorite American and Eastern European traditions of religion, tradition, and food collide at Christmas, allowing me to have a taste of the best of what each nationality has to offer.
Lauren Volkodav is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.