By Fintan Hinley
With 83 percent of students identifying as Roman Catholic, Loyola High School is home to a predominantly Catholic student body; however, the remaining 17 percent of students do not practice a religion, or they identify with other world religions like Judaism, Hinduism, or other forms of Christianity.
Cubs of various religious backgrounds plan to celebrate the holiday break in a variety of forms. Sophomore JV Cosico, who is Catholic, said, “We celebrate by having a family gathering at my aunt’s house. We usually sing karaoke and eat Filipino food at her house.”
Additionally, senior Joel Krogstad, who also identifies as a member of the Catholic faith, said, “I go to my grandparents’ house after Christmas and eat fried oysters with my family.”
Krogstad said that this tradition is very important to his family because many of his relatives live in Louisiana, where the tradition originated. He also said that the food has a close family tie because many of his relatives have lived in New Orleans, and the tradition brings back childhood memories for those people.
Krogstad added, “We only buy oysters caught in New Orleans because that’s where real oysters come from.”
Sophomore Zach Jo is a Korean United Methodist Christian but still celebrates Christmas as part of his religion. The main difference between Jo’s religion and Catholicism is that Korean United Methodists do not use the sign of the cross, and participants receive the Eucharist only once a month, according to Jo. “During the Christmas season, I usually visit my dad’s side of the family on the east coast,” Jo said.
For Jo, one of his family’s traditions is celebrating an Asian-style New Year’s after Christmas. According to Jo, during this time of festivities, children bow to their elders to show respect and in turn are rewarded with money.
Many Cubs also celebrate the Jewish holiday Hanukkah.
Senior Bo Slade, a member of the Jewish faith, said, “I usually celebrate Hanukkah by going to Temple at least twice during the week. I celebrate Christmas with my family, but I don’t usually go to mass on Christmas morning.”
Like Slade, Mr. Farland, a 20 year veteran of working at Jesuit schools, celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah. He said that he celebrates Hanukkah at home with his family. “We exchange one gift every night. Usually the best gift is given the first night. By the eighth night we usually exchange hugs,” Mr. Farland said.
In addition, Mr. Farland said, “We traditionally eat foods made with oil during Hanukkah. Jewish favorites for Hanukkah include potato latkes (potato pancakes) with apple sauce and jelly donuts.”
As for Christmas, Mr. Farland said he and his wife celebrate the holiday with his in-laws. His immediate family does not exchange gifts, but he does give gifts to his extended family on Christmas, Mr. Farland said.
Sophomore Grant Regen, also a member of the Jewish community said, “I’m culturally Jewish, and I celebrate Hanukkah instead of Christmas.” Regen added that he visits his grandmother for Hanukkah, and they celebrate by exchanging gifts and sharing traditional foods such as latkes and blintzes.
Junior Vikram Chandran, a member of the Hindu faith, said that he and his family travel internationally every Christmas. Like Farland, Chandran said that even though his family is not Christian, they still celebrate Christmas and exchange gifts. “This year we are going to Brazil, and we normally celebrate Christmas where we are vacationing,” Chandran said.
Sophomore Kevin Kim, who is Buddhist, said that he also celebrates the holiday season abroad. “I visit my family in Korea and study during about ten study sessions. While I’m there, I go to Seoul, Busan, and Daegu with my family. We also have large feasts with so many dishes that it is hard to choose a favorite.”
Senior Zohair Madhani, a Muslim, said he plans to use the holidays to celebrate the completion of his college applications. Madhani also said that during the holiday season, he celebrates a Muslim holiday called Eid Al-Fitr. “It is celebrated at the end of Ramadaan, a month of fasting during daylight hours,” Madhani said.
Madhani added that he usually gets gifts during the season, but his family does not purchase a tree or decorate for the Christmas season.
Junior PJ Shoemaker, a Presbyterian student, said that during the holiday season, he attends church with his family on Christmas Eve. Additionally, Shoemaker said, “We gather for dinner with our extended and immediate family to eat and exchange gifts.”