Students celebrate for a variety of occasions during winter break

With classes out of session, students have time to celebrate, travel or just rest.

by Lacey Crisp

Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah or have a good vacation. No matter how students celebrate, many said they are looking forward to winter break and spending time away from classrooms.

Amy Olson, director of Hillel, the Jewish student center, said students will use the vacation to relax because the holiday Hanukkah is almost over.

The holiday commemorates a Jewish victory over Greek rulers in Israel, Olson said. When the Jewish community took back the temple, they lit menorahs or candelabras, she said.

Olson said the temple had only a little oil, but it lasted eight days, which now represents why Hanukkah lasts eight days and why the holiday’s typical foods are made with oil.

This year, Hanukkah celebrations began Dec. 7 and run through today, Olson said.

“Hanukkah helps us affirm our own identity and is a minor Jewish holiday,” Olson said. “For our students, it’s more about a break from school.”

Olson said many Jewish students will spend time with their families and others will celebrate together on a trip to Israel.

The program the students are going with, Birthright Israel, is for Jewish students who have never been to Israel and is paid for by donations. Thirty students will be gone for 10 days on the trip.

Jon Schrupp, a member of Campus Crusade for Christ, said many group members will attend the Twin Cities Experience, a nondenominational religious gathering.

“We go there and listen to speakers who give challenging messages and have large group music,” Schrupp said.

The conference is in Minneapolis. It starts Dec. 28 and runs through Jan. 2.

Schrupp said participants will have a large New Year’s Eve celebration during the conference.

He said the group will donate to the needy and sing many Christmas carols during the conference. The group does not have a celebration planned, he said.

Malik Harfi, vice president of the Muslim Student Association, said most group members will spend time with their families during winter break.

“Most of our students are international students, so they will be traveling over break,” Harfi said.

He said many will go on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and will be back after spring semester begins.

Eric Paulson, vice president of the Vedic Cultural Society, said the group will have a big New Year’s celebration this year.

“We are inviting a guest monk from London to have a celebration over New Year’s,” Paulson said.

He said approximately 40 people will attend the gathering, which will focus on meditating. They will also have classes on philosophy, he said.

“Our motto is simple living and high thinking,” Paulson said.

He said the group follows the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Indian scripture.