By Koo Ji-hae
As winter draws near, frosty breeze begins to sting our cheeks, and we find ourselves longing for winter vacation so we can stay in our warm homes. This is especially true for students who are living far away from their homes, for winter vacation is the break when they are given the opportunity to return to their families. Even better, Christmas is just around the corner. However, there are some students who do not celebrate December with Christmas trees and Santa Claus. These students are the foreign students in Ewha who are from countries with different religions and cultural backgrounds. To learn about their holidays, students from Sudan, America, and Laos were interviewed.
For people in Laos, which is a Buddhist country, Bun Pha Wet is a huge festival in December celebrating the life of Prince Vestsantra, who was reincarnated into Buddha in his next life. It is scheduled so that it could be celebrated seperately on different days in different villages. This is so that friends and relatives in different villages can invite each other to their respective festivals. "During Bun Pha Wet, people make many kinds of dishes and we take them to the monks in the temple. The monks eat the food and in return, they pray to Buddha for the well being of the people,"said Xayasouk Doungsathien (Business Administration, 1). The temple is like the church in Laos. People go there to pray when they have a hard time.?Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, commemorates the obedience of the Prophet Ibrahim to Allah by sacrificing his only son Ishmael. Muslims all over the world celebrate this symbolic holiday. However, since the Islamic calendar follows the lunar calendar, Eid al-Adha is not on a fixed date in our Gregorian or solar calendars. This year, it is on January 10. Muslims who can afford to do so sacrifice domestic animals, usually sheep, as a symbol of Ibrahim's sacrifice.
Eid al-Adha is a festive, wonderful holiday, and it is celebrated to give thanks to what we have in life,?said Reela Khalifa (International Studies, 3). "One of the practices of Eid al-Adha is slaughtering a sheep, in the "Halal"way (slaughtered in a way that is "Permissible"in Islam); we celebrate, with a big feast with our relatives and friends."Being a daughter of a diplomat, and having traveled many parts of the globe she explained how her family celebrated Eid al-Adha wherever they went. "In America, we had friends who owned a farm so it was easy to find ?alal?meat and while in Korea, the Itaewon Mosque helped make accommodations for ?alal?meat. When we celebrated Eid al-Adha in Korea, the entire Sudanese community came to the Ambassador's Residence to celebrate, creating close friendships and bonds."
Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday but a cultural one, as its purpose is to celebrate the meaning of being African and appreciating the bonds between family, community and culture. The colors that represent Kwanzaa are red, black, and green which symbolize the African people, their struggles, and their hopes. It is observed from December 26 to January 1.
"Most people in the African-American community know about Kwanzaa. However, there aren? many that celebrate it regularly like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Kwanzaa was created to remind us of our connection to Africa and others in the African diaspora and our duties to those who care about us,"says Regina Walton, who is studying in the Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS). "I know that some people observe it at home with their families and some have large celebrations. "
Globalization has allowed us to encounter holidays from cultures that are quite different from our own. Yet, despite how unique and distinct they are from our own holidays, foreign holidays have the same purpose; to come together with those we love and to be thankful for all we have. Students returning home for winter vacation can be assured they will experience a truly heartwarming time, for they can expect their families, who are waiting with open arms, and celebrate their holidays with those they love.