Whether your family bakes cookies while wearing matching pajamas or watches “It’s A Wonderful Life” on repeat, every family has its holiday traditions. As Wayne State students prepare to head home to enjoy quality time with their families and friends, some Warriors share their unique traditions and ways of celebrating.

For sophomore electrical engineering student Adam Abdullah, Thanksgiving is a time to remember loved ones who have passed. 

“On my mom's side, we cook all her dad's recipes, he passed away three years ago,” Abdullah said. 

He said his whole family cooks the recipes together, and this tradition has brought Abdullah’s family and other families in his neighborhood closer together.

“The most popular of the recipes are his almond mushroom gravy, his cranberry sauce and his turkey recipe,” he said. “My next-door neighbor also has the recipe. It feels good knowing my grandfather’s recipes are still bringing families together.”

Sonja Flora, a sophomore communications student, said she also feels the importance of family ties during the holiday season. Each winter break, Flora goes to Albania with her family, where she was born and raised. 

“I’m Muslim, so I don’t celebrate Christmas,” Flora said. “When I'm there I just spend time with my family. We gather around together, and we cook a huge feast and enjoy this time together.”

Flora said her family spends time together during Eid, a biannual Islamic holiday. 

“I have a really traditional family so we’re strict about celebrating together in a really unplugged setting, meaning that we really aren't affected by the distractions of social media or technology,” Flora said.

Freshman pre-nursing student Cardina Toombs also links holiday traditions with religious observances. 

“My family spends New Year’s Eve together at church until 3 a.m. the following day,” Toombs said.

“At 11:30 p.m. we begin to pray into the new year and once [midnight] hits we tell each other happy new year and we sing and rejoice,” she said. “After the celebration we have a huge church breakfast. It’s the best way to bring in the new year.”  

While Abdullah values inviting people to join in his family’s Thanksgiving tradition, and Toombs said she motivates friends and family to join her at church on New Year’s Eve, Flora prefers to keep her family’s tradition to just family.

“I like to keep this celebration intimate, just family,” Flora said. “I could never see myself inviting any of my friends to come and partake in this family tradition.” 

While traditions are generally passed down through generations, it’s never too late to start a new family tradition. Freshman kinesiology student Tailor Echols said her family created new holiday traditions in the past year.

Last year, Echols’ family started a new tradition with a round of The Elf on the Shelf, she said. On the 25 days leading up to Christmas, her parents hid the elf throughout the house for her little brother to find.

“Elf on the Shelf is such a fun way to get my little brother and cousins to get off their video games and play together,” Echols said.

She also said that her other family members have started The Elf on the Shelf in their homes.

“Though Elf on the Shelf is for little kids, older people in my family participate, too,” Echols said. “Last year, we did a big Elf on the Shelf at my grandma's house and my uncles and aunties made a big game of brothers against sisters and it was the highlight of the Christmas season.” 

Regardless of how your family celebrates the holidays, enjoy this time with loved ones and come back to campus recouped and ready for finals. 

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