by Milan Riley
Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated in multiple countries around the world as it marks the end of the autumn season and shows gratitude for the fall harvest. Different countries have traditions and dates that vary for this occasion, but most are very similar. The majority of individuals that participate in Thanksgiving spend this time with their families and have a large feast. Some places that recognize the holiday, or have an event with a related concept, are the United States of America, Canada, Liberia, and Norfolk Island, which all have nearly identical customs for Thanksgiving. In addition, Germany, Grenada, China, Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam all have their own unique traditions for their harvest celebration.
Thanksgiving in America
In the United States, the traditions that evolved for Thanksgiving Day originated 400 years ago in 1621. It began when the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag, a local tribe of Native Americans, shared a feast to commemorate the colonists’ first successful harvest, which involved three days of rejoicing. It was the Native Americans who showed them how to survive the harsh winter, resulting in an alliance that lasted 50 years. In 1863, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln announced that Thanksgiving Day should be held on the last Thursday of November throughout the nation. However, this was altered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who signed a bill in 1941, moving the occasion and decreeing that Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November each year.
For the holiday, American households often gather with friends and family and enjoy a large meal, usually with turkey as the main dish. Pumpkin pie, stuffing, and mashed potatoes may be present as other traditional dishes. It is also common for individuals to volunteer on this day; food drives and free dinners are frequently hosted by communities. Parades, such as New York City’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, feature large character-shaped balloons, performers, and bands. These capture lots of attention as millions of people come to watch the festivities. In addition, since the middle of the 20th century, the U.S. president usually “pardons” at least one Thanksgiving turkey each year, letting them safely retire to a farm.
New York City’s Thanksgiving Parade 2021, hosted by Macy’s department store
Thanksgiving in Canada
The first Canadian Thanksgiving occurred around 1578, 43 years earlier than its American counterpart, although the first official Thanksgiving celebration didn’t occur in Canada until the 19th century. At first, similar European holidays were the inspiration for the event. The holiday allowed colonists in Canada to appreciate a successful harvest’s products. Despite being much older than American traditions, the Canadian holiday did adopt some of the U.S. customs later on.
Before and during the Revolutionary War, many American colonists who supported the British moved to Canada, thereby bringing their Thanksgiving practices. As a result, the Canadian menu for a Thanksgiving feast often includes a turkey, pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, and stuffing, much like the Americans. Though there are many similarities, the date for the holiday differentiates from America’s; in Canada, Thanksgiving Day is on the second Monday of October. In addition, not every province celebrates it as a public holiday.
An example of a Canadian household on Thanksgiving Day
Thanksgiving in Liberia
Since Liberia was founded by freed American slaves in 1847, many of their traditions are influenced by the United States; this includes Thanksgiving customs. Some activities in Liberia include a church service on Thanksgiving Day followed by an auction of harvest crops. Finally, as in America, families would return home to a feast.
However, unlike America, the holiday is held on the first Thursday of November in Liberia. There are also some culinary differences; in Liberia, their menu consists of roast chicken, green bean casserole, and mashed cassavas. This is because it is rarer to find turkeys and pumpkins in Liberia, a West African nation. As with many Liberian celebrations, they also listen to music, dance, and sing on Thanksgiving Day.
Traditional foods for a Thanksgiving dinner in Liberia
Thanksgiving in Norfolk Island
Across the world, Norfolk Island, located off the coast of Australia, adopted a very similar version of American Thanksgiving. With a population of just 2,000 residents, the island was a British penal colony for 67 years, from 1788 to 1855. During this time, many whalers and traders from the United States visited the area. Isaac Robinson, an American trader, arrived in the late 1800s and introduced the traditional Thanksgiving to a local church. Despite him sadly dying soon afterward, the island kept the holiday. Now, individuals living on Norfolk Island have a feast with pork, chicken, bananas, and pumpkin pie. They celebrate the occasion on the last Wednesday of November.
A food drive on Norfolk Island during ThanksgivingRead More
Halloween was a blast this year! It was so fun to be able to “scare up” some costumes and gather in person to horrify and delight our school community – thank you to everyone who participated!
Congratulations to our Costume Contest winners:
Middle school – Tank: Jedrek V.
High school – Mushroom: Leah R.
Middle school – Scary clown: Arsen A.
High school – Patrick Bateman from American Psycho: Cormac C.
Best Group Costume:
Middle school – Victorian Servants: Ever P., Tristan C., Lily K., Jack H.
High school – Alice in Wonderland: Kimi P., Natalie M., Chloe M.
(click on the photos in the gallery below to enlarge)
Photo Credits: Emily Corona, Julia Shin, Milan Riley, Jordin LimRead More
The LatinX Student Union
Día de Los Muertos
Día de Los Muertos/Day of the Dead is celebrated yearly on November 1st and 2nd. The purpose of the holiday is to remember loved ones who have passed away. On Día de Los Muertos, families visit graves, make food that their departed loved ones once enjoyed, and create altars called ofrendas. Traditional components of the ofrenda are photographs, food offerings, mementos, candles, and orange flowers called cempasuchil (marigold) to decorate the altar and the gravesite.
To celebrate this holiday, the LatinX Student Union put up a traditional ofrenda in the main hallway on the 3rd floor. The ofrenda featured important Hispanic figures, such as Frida Kahlo, Selena Quintanilla, Evangelina Villegas, and Antonio Aguilar. Frida Kahlo was a surrealist Mexican painter who is known for her self-portraits. Selena Quintanilla was a Mexican-American musical artist and is known as the “Queen of Tejano Music.” Evangelina Villegas was a biochemist and was critical to the development of high-quality protein maize. Lastly, Antonio Aguilar is a widely recognized Mexican singer.
The LatinX Student Union also held a fundraiser by selling traditional Mexican candy and pastries. Thank you to everyone who stopped by!
Happy Earth Day!
It can be quite distressing to view the impact humans have had on Earth. There is no need to spell it out: we all know the negative effects of human industrialization on our home planet, ranging from global warming to pollution to wildlife extinction. However, our Mother Earth is caring. She has taken care of us for thousands upon thousands of generations. Now it is our turn to restore and reverse the negative effects that we have caused, one step at a time.
The first observance of Earth Day was during April 1970, when a junior senator from Wisconsin named Gaylord Nelson took advantage of the growing awareness of human effects on the environment. Although it is hard to believe now, laws that prevent certain harmful effects on the environment such as the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act were not yet in place during that time, which meant that pollution was much greater. General awareness grew when environmental leaders such as Rachel Carson began to delve into the harmful effects of human industrialization on the environment, in addition to major environmental disasters due to human error such as the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill, which was estimated to kill a staggering 3,500 sea birds, as well as many groups of sea animals. Sen. Nelson, with help from Congressmen Pete McCloskey and young activist Denis Hayes launched the first Earth Day in American history. Over 20 million Americans, 10% of the entire population of the United States at that time, joined together in protests and rallies to fight for a cleaner, healthier environment.
Today, more than a billion people worldwide celebrate Earth Day as a way to grow and spread awareness about our environment and the effects we have on it. Earth Day is also about appreciating the beauty of nature and the world around us, and figuring how we may be able to reverse the negative effects of our own actions on the environment. Please enjoy and cherish the great wonders the natural world has to offer. Happy Earth Day!
You can learn more about the history of Earth Day at this link: The History of Earth DayRead More
by Ava-Ray Pributsky, Mariia Grigoreva and Desmond Devine
As we prepare to celebrate the holidays, it’s wonderful to recognize the diversity of winter celebrations: Hanukkah, Advent, Las Posadas, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, the New Year, Epiphany/Three Kings Day. So many ways to celebrate and honor traditions and cultures from around the world and through a large expanse of history. Here are a few of the ways some of these holidays are celebrated by our Journalism Club students.
Mariia’s Holiday Traditions:
Very soon, more than 2 billion people will be celebrating Christmas. Some honor it as a religious holiday, while many more will celebrate it even if they are not Christian. Here are my family’s holiday traditions:
In most families in Russia, Christmas is actually celebrated on January 7th, because this is the date considered to be Christmas by Orthodox Christians, who use the Julian calendar, which predates the modern Gregorian calendar. However many families, including mine, combine it with the New Year holiday and celebrate them both on one day, December 31st.
Around 3 weeks before Christmas, we decorate the Christmas tree. We put many candies on the tree as decorations and every day before Christmas, we can eat one. If not all of them are gone, we eat what’s left on New Year’s Eve night.
In my family, we like to change the menu, but there are two common salads that we always eat on New Year and Christmas: “Olivie Salad” and “Herring under a Fur Coat”
Olivie Salad Recipe:
2 medium carrot
1 chicken breast
1 can of peas
5 salted cucumbers
Bake the chicken (30min on 350 degrees), Cook and cut eggs, carrots and potatoes into large dice. After the chicken has cooled somewhat, cut into large chunks. Chop up the rest of the ingredients and mix all together. Add mayo and your perfect salad is ready to eat.
Note: usually served cold, so put in the fridge before you eat it.
While my sister, my mother, and I prepare food, we usually have 2 very old movies playing, which we watch every single year: The Irony of Fate and Ivan Vasilievich: Back to the Future.
On the 31st of December, while the clock is striking 12 am, the adults make a wish. They write it on paper, burn it into a glass with champagne, and drink. Some just make a wish and drink, but everything has to be done while the clock is striking midnight. That is an important part of the tradition.
After everyone eats, we call all our relatives and give our best wishes for the New Year. Afterwards, we open the presents and listen to Christmas/New Year songs. In my family, we don’t wait until morning and open our presents around 1am.
Ava-Ray’s Holiday Traditions:
Decorate the House:
In my family, we celebrate Hanukkah, but we also put up a winter tree with lights and ornaments. Many of the ornaments are handmade. Each year we make a new ornament to represent the year. What should it be for this year? Maybe a mask or a vaccine syringe?
Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows:
A mashed sweet potato with butter and maple syrup topped with melted marshmallows. This is what my Grandmother and her mother made during Thanksgiving and the winter holidays every year. It reminds me of sitting with my family at the table, being together and eating wonderful food. This dish is very sweet and is often served as dessert in my household. A sweet dish to remind me of sweet memories.
Lighting the Menorah:
Every year in my family, we light the Menorah and say the prayers of Hanukkah. My dad tells the story of how the Jewish people did not have enough oil to light their temple lights because the temple had been raided and ransacked. They found only a small amount of oil in the rubble. They thought it would only last for a day or two, but it lasted 8 full nights. That is the Hanukkah miracle, that there was light during the darkness, during the pain. We have latkes and corned beef sandwiches and then we get our Hanukkah gifts. The holiday is about comfort, good food, and games. We each try and think of our reasons to be thankful and how we have made it to this Hanukkah.
Latkes and Applesauce:
Savory potato pancakes (almost like hash browns) with sweet apple sauce on top. When I was really little, my favorite part of Hanukkah was the latkes. Savory, buttery, potato goodness with sweet applesauce for dinner? Yum! My family would gobble down 3 latkes each at the very least. I would stuff my face with yummy food until I could not eat any more and then sit down on the couch and fall asleep.
Baba’s Latke Recipe:
6 large potatoes, grated
1 large onion, grated
2 eggs, well beaten
2 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
A pinch of pepper
4 tablespoons of oil
Peel the potatoes and onions. Grate potatoes and onions or use a Cuisinart and drain the extra juice. Add eggs, flour, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Heat oil in a large skillet and drop the batter in by spoonful. Fry to a deep brown on both sides. Serve with applesauce, sour cream, or vanilla yogurt. Geschmack! (Yiddish for licking the plate goodness!)
Prayer on the first night of Hanukkah: Praised are you, our God, ruler of the universe, who has given us life and sustained us and enabled us to reach this season. I am so thankful to be with my family on this Hanukkah. I know there are many people across the country and around the world, including in my own family, who have not made it to this Hanukkah. I think about them and say a prayer for them.
Have you ever wondered why our calendar is the way it is? Why certain holidays are recognized on specific days? Sure, Christmas was the day Jesus was said to have been born and the 4th of July is the day America declared its independence, but what about the other ones? Is there any deeper reason why holidays are celebrated at a certain time in the year other than “tradition”? Let’s consider the celebration of the New Year and my proposal for a more scientific and seasonally accurate date for the holiday.
Our calendar, along with many other aspects of our culture, stems from Roman civilization. On December 31st, Romans would have a feast and celebrate Janus, the god of new beginnings. He was said to have two faces, one looking to the past and the other towards the future. This evolved into our New Year celebration today, but to be honest it doesn’t make much rational sense and feels a bit arbitrary as a date to start the year. A more practical celebration would be on Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, since this is when our days start to become longer again and the seasonal cycle of Earth resets. Recognizing Winter Solstice as New Year’s Day would give the holiday an astronomical purpose and might make us more mindful towards the cyclical nature of our solar system.
[Roman God Janus]
Whichever holidays you and your family celebrate and however you celebrate them, we are all so happy for our health, our family’s health, making it through the 2020 Fall semester of The Science Academy, and the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines. We wish good health and happiness to all, and look forward to a very happy, hopeful, and healthy New Year!Read More
by Hayley Yoon
Every year, on the 10th of December, we celebrate the rights of all humans, no matter their race, religion, color, gender, language, or political opinion. On this day, back in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), after the end of World War II. This document proclaimed the permanent rights that every human on the Earth was entitled to. The UDHR is the most translated document in the world, and it is available in over 500 languages. It is composed of a preamble and 30 articles, which cover the 30 universal rights and freedoms of all humans. An illustrated version of the UDHR is available here.
Unfortunately, many people in different countries of the world are suffering from their rights being neglected. Article 04 of the UDHR states that “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” However, it is estimated that about 40 million people are imprisoned in modern slavery, a quarter of which are children. The most common forms of modern slavery include human trafficking, debt bondage labor, forced labor, and child labor. Several organizations are currently working together to free people suffering from their stolen rights.
Human Rights Day is a perfect day to celebrate and take part in protecting our rights. There are several ways to celebrate this day, even at school or at home!
- One way is simply to spread awareness. Many people don’t know about some of their rights, or that their rights are being neglected. By writing an article in the school newspaper, posting a short message on social media, or educating your friends about their rights, you can spread awareness about this basic, yet essential topic.
- Pass a resolution, whether it be for school, a club, or just your household. You can also use this opportunity to educate your fellow students on Human Rights Day.
- Donate to a Human Rights charity! These organizations work together to protect and fight for the rights of humans. Some well known ones are Human Rights First (HRF), Human Rights Watch (HRW), or Amnesty International.
Sources UsedRead More