Unique student holiday traditions

As the semester comes to a close, most students are prepping for finals, packing their bags, and getting ready to head home to celebrate the holidays with their families.

With St. Cloud State being one of the most diverse colleges in the state of Minnesota — you’ll find that not everyone decks the halls or lights the menorah when they go home. Some don’t even celebrate Christmas the same way.

At a time of divisiveness in the city of St. Cloud and across America, people of all creeds, races, and religions should learn to embrace differences and respect one another’s religious holiday practices. We, at the University Chronicle, wanted to find out what students do to make their celebrations special.


Marissa Colangelo says her parents are divorced and for some, that makes the holidays a bit more challenging. However, she says both sides of her family have strange traditions to keep the “most wonderful time of the year” spontaneous and unpredictable. One side of her family has a Christmas pickle ornament that they hide every year and whoever finds it first gets a cash prize. “I’ve been doing it since I can remember,” she said. “We got the pickle handed down to us from my great grandmother.” On the other side of her family, she says that they always serve a dish on Christmas called

“I’ve been doing it since I can remember,” she said. “We got the pickle handed down to us from my great grandmother.” On the other side of her family, she says that they always serve a dish on Christmas called Giftas (pronounced Yifta) a Scandinavian dessert that comes from Norway and Sweden. For those that are unfamiliar with Scandinavian dishes, Gifta is a layer type dessert that includes a homemade whipped topping with gram cracker-like substance and usually Lingonberries on the bottom, but Marissa says that her family does cranberries. “The vase we’ve been making it in has been passed down for generations,” she said.

While many students and citizens of the state of Minnesota share a Scandinavian background, a large population on campus comes from abroad and the Hmong community has a strong presence at SCSU and in Minnesota.


Brenda Vang, the president of Asian Students in Action, says Hmong New Year is a vital celebration for friends and family within the Hmong community because it is a time where they showcase performances, share food, and celebrate the beginning of a new chapter with family and friends.

“The way in which we celebrate has definitely changed over the years,” Vang said. “Villages would come together and do ball tosses and interact with new people, but the more modern Hmong New Year is a way for us to demonstrate our culture and practices to others.”

With the family Hmong New Year, members contact one another and tell them it’s time to recall their spirits and gather themselves, come together and eat to celebrate a fresh beginning by making bracelets. The community and friends Hmong New Year is where everyone gets together and participates in various competitions including different dances, singers attempting to entertain the masses.

“People do just about anything you can imagine, there’s hip hop and modern dancing and then they have other groups that come in and compete in modern Hmong Dancing and they practice all year.”

Here is an example of what you might find:

When it comes to food, Vang says that sticky rice, pork belly, and Hmong sausages are severed at community gatherings and the more traditional meals are served at home with the family.

Hmong aren’t the only multicultural group that celebrates over the season. Halima Aden, the Miss Minnesota USA contestant that goes to SCSU says her family celebrates Eid.


For those that don’t know, Eid is the Muslim holiday celebrated after Ramadan to celebrate the end of fasting.

“We celebrate it to show empathy towards those who are less fortunate than us,” Hamila said. “There are people in the world who are not as fortunate as we are and we should acknowledge that.”

No matter what holiday you celebrate, whatever your creed may be, take time this season to learn about another culture because we live in a diverse community, and each person has a different story. From all of us at the University Chronicle, happy holidays.

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