Students Enjoy Variety of Family Traditions During Break

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Christmas is a time for family and traditions, and coming together and celebrating the season is popular among the vast majority of Shepherd Students.

“Christmas is a beautiful time of the year that brings families together. It’s magical and is where the true spirit of love, redemption and friendship really shines bright,” freshman Hannah Brumbaugh, an elementary education major, said. She and her family have the tradition of going to church on Christmas Eve and watching “The Christmas Story” before they sled on Christmas morning.

Shepherd students have definitive ideas about the holiday and what it means to them. Just before Thanksgiving break, as students gathered in the library, gabbed at the Ram’s Den and responded by email, 21 students lent their voices to a survey titled, “What Does Christmas Mean to You?”

Of the 21 Shepherd students surveyed recently, 15 said they attend church on Christmas or Christmas Eve.

“I do attend church, and I have faith. While that is true, I hate the word religion,” said junior Kelsey Stoneberger, an English major who is a Christian, “Because I’m with my family, I’ve grown up going to church, but my family has never gone on Christmas.” Stoneberger is among the minority of students who do not attend holiday services.

All but four gave religious preference. Many variations of Christianity were listed: Catholic, Baptist, Russian Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist and Church of God were all part of the 17 who answered.

The beliefs of each made no difference when it came to comments and traditions for the holiday. The group responded vociferously.

“Christmas has been very commercialized. We have forgotten the real reason this holiday was created, for the birth of Jesus Christ,” said sophomore Andrea Siles, a fine arts major. Of the respondents, 5 percent feel the same as Siles.

All of those surveyed agreed that the holiday is focused on the family.

“Every year I have Christmas with my Mom in the morning then go to my Dad’s for dinner. The following morning my grandma takes all the girls out for a day of shopping,” said sophomore Keesha McLoud, an English education major.

“Christmas is a great time for everyone to come together and celebrate positivity, regardless of religion. I believe anyone who is against it is against happiness, but that’s their choice,” said sophomore Christian Shimer, who majors in math.

“Every Christmas morning, my Mom makes sausage gravy and biscuits for the family. Then we open up gifts around the tree while “A Christmas Story” plays in the background. Occasionally, my Mom and I do roles in our church’s Christmas play. We love Christmas in my family and are always happy to be blessed to celebrate it together. Oh, we also watch the Disney parade,” said junior Taylor Yokum, who majors in communication.

“On Christmas Eve, my family always drives around town to look at all the Christmas lights on the houses, and then we go home and open one present (always pajamas). After all that, we get in our Christmas jammies and drink punch,” said sophomore Kaitlyn Miller, who is a nursing major.

“I generally get a big tree from a pine grove on the property from my father’s home out past Capon Bridge. With two kids, my time is generally spent spoiling them,” said sophomore Anthony Smith, a business major. “Decorations can be up as early as the second week of December and stay up until after New Years.”

Christmas is celebrated worldwide. Some countries imbibe solely for cultural reasons and some purely for religious ones. When it comes to the root of the holiday’s name, however, most web sites agree that “Christmas” is used to replace the celebrated “Christ’s mass.”

However, that is about all they agree upon. For most of us, we do not dwell on the name but use the winter holiday to gather together and be thankful (even more than during the holiday for pilgrims) while we give, get and covet gifts.

“The word Christmas stems from the abbreviation of ‘Christ’s mass’ which is a derivative from Middle English Christemasssee and Old English Cristes maesse. The earliest found evidence of this phrase was recorded in 1038 which was also an amalgamated derivative of the Greek Christos and the Latin missa. In the Greek translations of the New Testament, the letter X (chi) is the first letter of Christ. By the mid-16th century, X was used as an acronym for Christ and Xmas became the abbreviate form of Christmas,” according to the WWW directory.