Happy Holidays

RUSU Happy Holidays campaign 2018-19
December 2018

Here at RUSU this year, we are going to be celebrating the holidays at the end of Autumn Term 2018/19 with a couple of events.

December is a month of multicultural holiday celebrations across the world. Happy Holidays is a campaign that aims to celebrate different holidays by raising awareness of how the world celebrates. Here are some of the holidays celebrated during winter break:

For 8 days each November or December, Jews light a special candle holder called a menorah. This is to remember an ancient miracle in which one day’s worth of oil burned for eight days in the temple. During Hanukkah, many Jews also eat a dish called latkes, sing songs, and spin a top called a dreidel to win chocolate coins, nuts, or raisins.

St Nicholas Day celebrates St Nicholas of Myra, the man whose life inspired the tradition of Santa Claus and Father Christmas. He was known for his compassion for children and all those in need as he gave all of his money to the needy. The holiday honours the man on the anniversary of his death, December 6, 343 A.D. Many European countries celebrate with parades, feasts, gift giving, and festivals.

To honour this third-century saint on December 13, many girls in Sweden dress up as “Lucia brides” in long white gowns with red sashes, and a wreath of burning candles on their heads. They wake up their families by singing songs and bringing them coffee and twisted saffron buns called “Lucia cats”.

Christians celebrate by going to church, giving gifts, and sharing the day with their families. In some parts of Europe, “star singers” go carolling where they sing special Christmas songs as they walk behind a huge star on a pole.

In Ireland, Christmas festivities tend to be more religious in nature rather than being about gifts. Christmas celebrations last from Christmas Eve until January 6. On December 26, known as St. Stephen’s Day, an Irish tradition, known as the Wren Boys Procession, takes place.

In the Ukraine, Christmas Eve festivities are known as Sviata Vechera, which means “Holy Supper”. The celebration begins when the first evening star is sighted in the night sky. In farming communities, the household head brings in a sheaf of wheat, which symbolizes the wheat crops of Ukraine. It is called “didukh,” which translates to “grandfather spirit.” In homes within the city, a few stalks of wheat may be used to decorate the table.

In the UK, the main Christmas meal is usually eaten at lunchtime on Christmas Day. It's normally roast turkey, roast vegetables and vegetables like carrots & peas, stuffing and sometimes bacon and sausages (pigs in blankets). It's often served with cranberry sauce and bread sauce. Traditionally, and before turkey was available, roast beef or goose was the main Christmas meal. One vegetable that is often at Christmas in the UK are brussels sprouts. Dessert is often Christmas Pudding. Mince pies and lots of chocolates are often eaten as well!

Kwanzaa (meaning ‘First Fruits’) is based on ancient African harvest festivals and celebrates values such as family life and unity. This is celebrated from December 26 to January 1. People dress in special clothes, decorate their homes with fruits and vegetables, and light a candle holder called a kinara.

At the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas comes a day called the Epiphany, or Three Kings Day - the day the three wise men first saw baby Jesus and brought him gifts.

In Spain, many children get their Christmas presents. In Puerto Rico, on January 5, before going to sleep, children leave a box with hay under their beds so the kings will leave them good presents. In France, a delicious King cake is baked. These cakes will have a hidden coin, jewel, or little toy inside.

Food to cook

Check out Diversity Digest!

Christmas in the UK

Christmas Markets

In recent years Christmas Markets have become popular in the UK. Many towns across the country will be running them throughout the month of December. Christmas Markets are a good place to view and buy handmade gifts and try new foods. Bath, Oxford and Winchester are nearby towns that host markets. If you’d like to go slightly further afield, Birmingham’s German Christmas Market is the largest authentic German market outside of Germany and Austria.

There are also plenty of activities to do in London in December. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park has an ice rink, rides and a Christmas market. The West End has plenty of pantomimes showing (pantomimes being a British Christmas tradition). Ice skate by different London landmarks including Canary Wharf, the Tower of London and the Natural History Museum. The Royal family’s Kensington Palace will open its doors for visitors to experience Christmas as a Victorian.

Things to remember

  • Shops traditionally shut on Christmas Day, some garages may however be open. Supermarkets often close early on the days around Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, so make sure you do your grocery shop in advance and check the supermarket websites early.
  • Many parts of the university and RUSU will be closed for several days over the Christmas period, you can find the closure dates on the Reading University website.
  • You can also find the library opening times on the Reading University website.
  • Public transport generally runs on a reduced service around the Christmas period, often not running at all on Christmas Day. It’s always best to check before you travel.
  • Check with your respective Doctors Surgery about seasonal opening hours.

What are we doing at RUSU?

Craft Workshop

Pop along to create some DIY holiday presents!

Date: Thursday 13th December 2018
Time: 13:00 - 14:00
Venue: RUSU Corridor (by Mojos/Mondial)

Craft Workshop

Another chance for you to come create some holiday crafts including gingerbread men!

Date: Thursday 18th December 2018
Time: 11:00 - 13:00
Venue: RUSU Boardroom (go up the stairs next to Cerealworks or speak to reception)

Board games afternoon

Come along to play some boardgames and meet other students in Reading over winter break!

Date: Wednesday 19th December 2018
Time: 13:00 - 15:00
Venue: RUSU Boardroom (go up the stairs next to Cerealworks or speak to reception)