The Daily Gamecock

Christmahannakwanizka celebrates holidays from multiple religions, cultures

What do you get when your combine eight holidays into one event? Christmahannakwanizka.

The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA) and Student Government teamed up to host the second-annual Christmahannakwanizka celebration in the Russell House Ballroom on Tuesday. 

Christmahannakwanizka celebrates holidays that take place between November and February, notably Diwali, Chinese New Year, Winter Solstice, Las Posadas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, The Prophet’s Birthday and Christmas. 

“Oftentimes, when we go on holiday break, the one holiday that we celebrate is what? Christmas,” the director of OMSA, Shay Malone, said during a greeting speech. “But we recognize that there are other holidays that are represented on campus.” 

To celebrate, multiple tables were set up, each representing one of the many holidays. On each table there was a craft activity that matched the holiday, and a take-home card that explained the holiday. To name a few, for Diwali, participants created string lights; for Winter Solstice, popcorn garlands; for Kwanzaa, a puzzle. 

Additionally, music pumped throughout the room and free, holiday-themed food was provided. Some of the options were steamed rice, latkes with sour cream and applesauce, gingerbread cookies, eggnog, beef empanadas and mediterranean chicken bites. 

“A lot of people don’t know about the different cultures and different ways that people celebrate the holiday season from November to February,” said Darius Stephens-York, a second-year political science student and Student Government’s secretary of inclusion and equity. His committee partnered with OMSA to manage the logistics of the event. 

“Including myself — I didn’t know for a while — so I do think that it’s important that we recognize other people so that everyone feels like they’re being celebrated as well,” Stephens-York said. “A lot of people care a lot about these different things, same way I do about Christmas, and a lot of people feel that way about Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, so I do think it’s important.” 

As fourth year-public health student and Student Life intern for OMSA, Amelia Wilks puts it, “USC is a melting pot of different identities.” 

“I think it’s very important to be culturally aware just so like you are respectful of what other people celebrate,” Wilks, who played a large part in planning and executing Christmahannakwanizka both this year and last year, said. “We go to a school — it’s 30,000 people — obviously everyone's not gonna celebrate Christmas, everybody's not gonna celebrate Kwanzaa or Dubali, things of that nature.” 

A majority of the event attendees said they personally celebrate Christmas, so to them, Christmahannakwanizka was a welcome learning curve. 

“It’s definitely something that I [would] come back to next year,” first-year psychology student Dylan McLean said. “I’m not a very outgoing person, but coming to this a few times would be really interesting and I think beneficial to me in terms of a worldly view.”