Whether it is lighting the menorah, decorating sugar cookies, or celebrating the Chinese New Year, we all have our favorite winter traditions—many of which stem from our own childhood and family histories.
While the holidays might look a bit different this year and traditions may change with socially distancing guidelines, we asked Fishers residents to share their most treasured winter traditions and memories from years past, and how they typically celebrate the holidays when they are able to safely get together.
The Kohli Family – Manzil, Payal, Maahir (7) and Piyali (5)
“We have been celebrating the Hindu festival of lights, Diwali, for many years with friends and neighbors. Diwali, or Deepavali, is celebrated over five days and is one of the most famous Hindu festivals representing victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance.
Just like during Thanksgiving and Christmas, my son and daughter look forward to Diwali festivities and meeting friends and family. Hindus all over the world clean and decorate homes, prepare it to welcome Lakshmi Mata, and celebrate festivities with new clothes, sweets, and delicacies. This festival is as important to Hindus as the Christmas holiday is to Christians. This festival is celebrated in the Hindu month of Kartika which falls sometime during October or November, and has been celebrated for many years per the Hindu Mythology.”
The Moore Family – Joscelyn, Colin, Hannah (16), Marissa (14) and Nathan (12)
“We cherish spending time with family celebrating Hanukkah traditions together and eating traditional foods, playing dreidel games, exchanging gifts, and playing cards (especially euchre!). Playing cards started a few years ago when our youngest was old enough to play. Our Hanukkah traditions have been around ever since our kids were little.”
The Blom Family – Lindsey,Tim, Kenzie (13) and Spencer (8)
“Our tradition is to have Christmas Eve fondue made up of three courses, including cheese and bread, then meat and veggies in oil, and dessert if we are still hungry. Then, the cousins put on their matching PJs and the extended family spends the night.
The next morning, the children wait until the adults are ready and then they walk down the stairs to see what is under the tree. We open our stockings (kids and adults) and then we open one present at a time for six to eight hours, until everything is unwrapped.”
The Williams Family – Andrea, Norman, Amanda, Robyn, Vernice, Quinn and Kate
“Kwanza is one of the winter holidays celebrated that we celebrate. It is one way we show thankfulness for the blessing of life and family. Kwanzaa begins on December 26 and culminates on December 31 with the sharing of gifts and a meal. The meal is not just our immediate family, but similar to a Thanksgiving meal with others coming and bringing a variety of dishes.
During Kwanza, we share the Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of life and community by lighting a candle each day as we highlight one of the principles. The colors of the candles are red, black, and green. The red represents our blood; the black, our culture; and the green, our land. We also each make a Nguzo Saba poster board to be placed in our homes. During this time, we greet everyone with “Habari Gani,” which means “how is it with you?”
Kwanza is a time of remembering where we came from, a reminder of where we are, and a reminder of how we continue the journey of freedom and family.”
The Tai Family – Kellie, Anthony and Kaelyn (17)
“We celebrate Christmas, but we also celebrate Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year) in the early new year. The past few celebrations, we’ve hosted a dumpling party for my friends, where we teach them how to fold dumplings and then cook them up to eat while we watch a Kung Fu movie. We also always eat Chinese New Year cake, called Nian Gao, which I look forward to eating every year–it’s chewy and sweet! Most of Chinese New Year revolves around food, so there are plenty of different foods that are meant to bring prosperity, longevity, and luck into the new year.
Chinese New Year is possibly my most favorite holiday. We’ve been celebrating it for as long as I can remember. I was adopted from China and my father’s Chinese, but I still have lived a pretty Americanized life. Chinese New Year is one of the ways that I can connect back to my heritage.”
The Sutton Family – Wilbur, Marsha, Ellen, Catherine and 3 granddaughters
“We celebrate Christmas, and after our evening meal, we play White Elephant Bingo. Everyone brings a wrapped present (new or used) and we play bingo. We don’t clear our cards and every for every bingo, we pick a present and when they’ve all been picked, we use our bingos to take someone else’s present. When a card is completely filled, the game is over. Only then do we get to open our “bounty.”
It is a hoot to find out that what you “fought over” was sometimes ridiculous, sometimes cool, or sometimes just plain funny. The prettier the wrapping, the harder the present gets fought over.”
The Munirs Family – Muhammad, Amira, Musafaa (18), Tahaa (16), and Wali (15)
“We are big time foodies. Muhammad and I cook a lot and our boys have inherited the cooking gene from both of us. Winters are a perfect time when we take time off from work and use our creativity in the kitchen. We love to gather in our comfy kitchen and try all the winter recipes, some of which have been passed down for generations. We look forward to the coziness of our home, bonding over traditional storytelling, and games. We also look forward to seeing our families from out of state.
Our family has also started the tradition of having Friendsgiving for our kids, where our kids invite their friends over before Thanksgiving and we cook dinner for them.”
The Chen Family – Michael, Michelle, and Maggie (17)
“My paternal family celebrates the Chinese (Lunar) New Year. My family gathers at my grandma’s house for this celebration. For my family, dinner is an especially important meal in which all family members are to be eating together.
My aunties give us Lucky Money/Red Pack (English) or Lai See (Cantonese) or Hongbao (Mandarin). The significance lies in the red envelope, rather than the money inside. Red symbolizes happiness, luck, and blessings for the receiver.
For my family, the holidays are for getting together and eating a meal together. We wish each other peace, love, health, beauty, smarts, and happiness.”
The Siebert Family – Randy and Karen
“Our tradition is cruising in the Caribbean. It started years ago when I realized it was the only way to actually disconnect and get away from work. We’ve cruised every winter since then. I have since retired, but we still cruise for at least 14 days every winter, and then some other times over the course of the year.”
Amy Crell is the Volunteer Coordinator for the City of Fishers. She and her husband have lived in Fishers for 31 years, where they raised their three children. Her favorite things to do in Fishers are enjoying bike rides, taking daily walks with her dog Dot at Cumberland Park, visiting the Fishers AgriPark, and shopping the Fishers Farmers’ Market and local boutiques. She also enjoys gardening, exercising, volunteering, and hanging out with her kids and close friends. She is on the Executive Committee for Fishers Multi-Faith Community for Compassion and also helped develop and is a member of The Indiana Multi-Faith Network. Her favorite aspects of Fishers are the people, the strong sense of community, and the abundance of fun and interesting opportunities to get out, get involved, have fun, and be enlightened.