The Rocket Flame

10 Ways To Make Your Christmas Season Sleigh

After all the turkey and stuffing is gone, and 95.1 immediately begins playing Christmas music, it’s time to get into the Christmas spirit. You can finally crank up “Jingle Bells” and decorate your tree with no judgment of celebrating “too early.” There are many little things you can do to make your Christmas season as festive as possible.

 

Hershey Sweet Lights in Hershey, PA is a 2-mile drive through about 600 different displays of animated Christmas lights. As you drive through the winding  path, you can tune your radio to the special station that corresponds to the dancing and twinkling lights.

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Hershey’s Sweet Lights in Hershey, PA.

Another way to enjoy the Christmas season is to take advantage of the deals when it comes to holiday shopping. Many stores have special promotions going on for buying lots of gifts. Malls and stores are decorated for the season and luring shoppers in with their sales and festive music. Locally, many people go to the Valley Mall or the Hagerstown Premium Outlets to do their holiday shopping.

 

Immediately after Thanksgiving, the upbeat and happy Christmas music begins to play which makes it obvious that it’s time for the holidays and to celebrate. Listening to Christmas music is a central idea in the holiday season.

 

“Listening to Christmas songs makes me enjoy this season so much because it just warms my heart how happy everyone gets,” said Lizzie Pittman (12).

 

One prominent thing in the holidays is shopping for a Christmas tree. Picking out a live Christmas tree is a unique experience when it comes to just getting an artificial tree out of a box every year.

 

“Finding the perfect Christmas tree with my family really puts me in the holiday spirit,” said Nathan Walls (12).

 

Another idea is ice skating. Locally, you can go to the Hagerstown Ice and Sports Complex and lace up a pair of ice skates. Admission is $5.00 and skate rental is $2.00.

 

“I really enjoyed going  ice skating my first time”, said Marlee Barry (12), “I liked it so much I actually once thought about taking lessons”.

 

Many locals in our area also spend time at Whitetail Ski Resort throughout the winter season, whether it’s time spent working, skiing, snowboarding or tubing. Whitetail has not yet opened for the season but will soon begin making snow for lots of skiers and snowboarders to enjoy.

 

Around this time is when many family members and friends give and receive gifts from one another. Many people participate in “Secret Santa” gift exchanges. Names are drawn out and you must get a gift for that person and keep it a secret until you exchange gifts.

 

“Secret Santa is a great way to celebrate the holiday because of the suspense and excitement it creates by not knowing who is surprising you”, said Emily Gipe (12).

 

Student Council also holds the annual Food Drive for the holiday season where students can bring in non-perishable canned goods to donate to families in need. The competition that takes place between the homerooms to win the prize gets lots of students participating.

 

There are also many other ways to donate back to the community during the holidays. Many “Toys for Tots” boxes and local shelters and organizations are in need of donations.

 

“We should all aspire to help others because helping other should be a part of your life,” said Mallory Peck (11). “Seeing someone else happy and know you were able to make that happen in some sort of way is one of the best feelings.”

 

Snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, and sugar cookies are another way add to the holiday season. Many people bake treats to share with friends and family as a miniature present and a way to enjoy each other.

 

“My family always has a cookie bake day where we all get together at my great aunt’s house to eat lunch, bake cut out cookies, make a craft, and just have a good time in everyone’s company,” said Elena McNulty (11).

 

Memories and traditions made this time of year become annual and a special part of many people’s Christmas.

 

“My favorite tradition is playing Hershey Kiss Oven Mitt Relay Race at my Nana’s house after dinner,” said Harley Rife (12). “We put on oven mitts and try to unwrap a Hershey Kiss. When everyone on your team unwraps their candy, they get to open gifts first and also receive a mystery gift.”

 

When it’s time to relax by the Christmas tree, make sure you include watching lots of Christmas movies. This time of year, many TV channels and apps like Netflix have a wide selection of Christmas movies to enjoy with your families. Some movies to watch on Netflix are How The Grinch Stole Christmas, A Princess Switch, The Christmas Chronicles, and A Christmas Prince.

 

“All my family watches Hallmark Christmas movies the entire day of Christmas Eve in our matching pj’s and then we make home made cookies for the younger ones to put out for Santa,” said Kali Rotharmel (12).

 

Many memories can be made and fun can be had while doing activities during Christmas. You can spend time enjoying the weather and seasonal activities, but always remember the real reason for the season and what it means to you.

 

What Is So Egg-Citing About Easter?

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With Spring right around the corner, everyone is excited to celebrate the hoppiest day that falls in April this year: Easter. With Easter comes the activities that everyone loves including dyeing eggs, Easter egg hunts, and lots of candy.

Easter originated as a Pagan festival to celebrate spring in countries north of the equator. In the Greek mythology, the goddess of earth, Demeter, grieves during the six months that her daughter Persephone, goddess of spring, is in the underworld causing nothing to grow. According to ABC News, the Spring Equinox marks the point where she returns and plants are revived from winter hibernation.

The spring equinox is a day where the amount of dark and the amount of daylight is identical,” said University of Sydney Professor, Carole Cusack in an article by ABC News.  “ You can tell that you’re emerging from winter because the daylight and the dark have come back into balance.”

After the advent of Christianity in the early first century, the Easter season became linked to the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Christ. The theme of Easter was a festival to celebrate new life and rising from the cold dark winter, which connected to the Christian belief that Christ rose from the grave.

Other influences on the Easter season include the Saxon (Germanic) Goddess, Eostre. According to famous American Lexicographer ( a compiler of dictionaries) Robert Barnhart, in Saxon culture, Eostre is the goddess of fertility, which coincides with the new life that the spring season brings. Also, Eostre’s symbols include eggs and rabbits, popular emblems in commercial Easter today.

With the rising popularity of Easter, in the early 19th century, a big push for commercialism of the Easter season was seen. “Card companies like Hallmark became big by launching images of cute little rabbits and Easter eggs on cards,”  said Dr. Cusack in the ABC News article. This and the other incorporations of past traditions and religious influences led to the Easter festivities and poster symbols that we see today.

Easter is celebrated in many different ways and for many different reasons. For Jae-Lin Carmack (12) Easter is a time to enjoy family activities. “My mom puts together an Easter “Eggstravaganza” for our close family, it’s basically a big scavenger hunt around Mercersburg, Chambersburg, and St.thomas,”  said Carmack.

“We go find hints that lead you to different places and we eventually end up all back at one spot, which is my house, for Easter dinner,” said Carmack.

Food is another thing many families include as a large part of their Easter celebrations. When asked what her family includes for their Easter meal Lauren Fleming (12) explained, “ Our family usually has a big Easter Dinner, We all get together and have a bunch of different foods but the main course is pork and sauerkraut; it’s a tradition.”

Whether it is enjoying egg hunts and Easter baskets with your family, celebrating religiously, or just by taking in the warmer weather, Easter is an enjoyable day beloved by many.

 

 

Traditions of Hanukkah

 

A growing holiday in the United States is Hanukkah. This holiday lasts for eight days.  and has six key components. The holiday is centered around the lighting of a menorah, foods prepared in oil, special songs, games, and gift exchanges.

 

An article Better Homes and Gardens states “The centerpiece of the Hanukkah celebration is the hanukkiah, also known as the menorah.”

 

The menorah holds nine candles. The center one is lit first and then is used to light the other eight candles. The eight candles represent the number of days celebrated during Hanukkah. When lighting the menorah,  the candles are lit from the left to the right. After the menorah is lit, it is typically displayed in the window of the Jewish home for everyone to see. Before candles, the menorah used to be lit with olive oil.

 

“The miracle of the oil lasting eight days is not only celebrated through the lighting of the menorah, but also in the traditional foods that are eaten. The author Brynn Holland states two of the most popular dishes, latkes and sufganiyot

 

The two main foods prepared for the Jewish holiday are called latkes and sufganiyot, states the The latkes are basically a potato pancake which are made by grated potatoes with eggs to form a batter. It is then poured onto a skillet where it is fried in oil. The other dish sufganiyot are a lot like jelly doughnuts. This is made by baking dough and inserting jelly into it, and topping it off with powdered sugar.  

 

Hanukkah comes with its own set of carols that are sung within the household, to represent the meaning of their religion. Some songs include “On Chanukah, Sevivon,” “Mi Y’malel,” and one of the most famous, “I Have a Little Dreidel.” The carol “I Have a Little Dreidel” is so prominent because it is the song that is sung when playing the game dreidel.

 

The game dreidel is almost like a gambling game. First the dreidel has four sides and each side has a hebrew letter on it. Any number of people are able to play. Each player is required to have the same amount of game pieces, things that can be used as game pieces are coins, raisin, and chocolate. Then someone spins the dreidel and depending on which side the dreidel lands on then each player has to either give or take a piece. The player who has the all game pieces first wins.

 

The author Natasha Rosenstock states that Hanukkah gifts were not traditionally a part of the holiday, however it has become a huge tradition to get a gift each day.

 

Since Hanukkah consists of eight days, each day a present is given from the parents to the children. Presents include puzzles, games, clothing, candy, and coins. Presents are given to keep the tradition of Hanukkah going and  to spend time with the family.

 

Hanukkah has so many traditions from the lighting of the menorah, the food that is prepared, songs that are sung, games that are played, and the gifts that are exchanged.

Customs of Thanksgiving

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Outside, the leaves have fallen: their colors have changed to red, yellow, and orange. The air has a cool brisk feeling and as you go inside the house, the aroma of the food occupies the dining room as mom and dad, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, and cousins converge at the dinner table. The diversity of food loads the table to the point where there is no table left to be seen. It is that time of the year where family comes together and spends quality time with one another, the holiday where people give thanks for what they have.

 

According to History.com, the first Thanksgiving came about when “passengers from Plymouth, England boarded on a ship called, the Mayflower.” The article stated that they wanted to “travel to the new world where there would be new opportunities.” Once the settlers landed, they made alliances with other tribes that were also on the land. The alliances would “eventually help them with their crops.” Finally, in November, they celebrated their “successful feast with their alliances” that would later be called the First Thanksgiving.

 

There are quite a number of things families do on Thanksgiving. Families either stay at home and have people over, go to houses of friends and family, or even travel to different cities, states, or to different countries. The main idea is that families try to get together and spend time with each other.

 

Thanksgiving is now a tradition that Americans follow. It has been around for over 400 years. Now families have their own traditions that they follow during the holidays. Mr. Troy Hillwig (Faculty) Emily Horst (9) and Janiece Grove (12) explain their experiences during Thanksgiving.

 

Normally, we get together with my parents and siblings for a feast on Thanksgiving Day,” Mr. Troy Hillwig (Faculty) explains. “My family also likes to get together with our best friends over the break and share stories. Although, for the first time ever, this year we are spending Thanksgiving Day in the Outer Banks!”

 

We usually toss the old pigskin around,” Hilwig said. “We also might throw in a game or two of Uno for money. Finally, there is usually a bit of football played and watched. ”

 

“We would all sit downstairs and watch Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade, with my grandma, while my parents would start making dinner,” Horst explains.

 

“We would also help with some of the dinner such as peeling potatoes and ripping the bread for stuffing,” said Emily Horst (9). “After we finished eating we would help clean up and play card games. Some games that we play would be Phase 10, Dominoes, Uno and Jenga.”

 

“My family goes to my aunt’s house for the Thanksgiving meal at lunchtime,” Janiece Grove (12) said. “We always turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while we are getting ready. After the meal we always look at Black Friday deals, tell hunting stories, and the boys play football.”

 

Everyone has that specific food that they like to eat during Thanksgiving. Mashed potatoes and gravy, turkey, stuffing, corn, cranberry sauce, rolls, pickled eggs and beets, and pies for dessert. There are numerous options to choose from.

“My favorite is the mashed potatoes because my dad makes the best ever! There is no other mashed potatoes that tastes that good,” Horst said.  

 

“I love the stuffing. It is my grandmother’s recipe and she always makes it perfectly!” Grove said.

 

“I have to go with stuffing,” Hillwig said.

 

“There are two types of stuffing: wet and dry. The one thing about stuffing is that it has to have gravy on it. Every time I had stuffing, it was perfect every time,” said Hillwig.

 

There are different rationales on why people celebrate Thanksgiving: to become closer with family or finally have a chance to relax and enjoy all of the things treasured in life.

 

“Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate and be thankful for what we have been given,” Grove said.  For my family and I, celebrating Thanksgiving is our way of really acknowledging all that the Lord has provided for us.”

 

“I am most thankful for love, from God, family, church family, friends, because life is meaningless without love.” said Grove.

 

“Thanksgiving is a time to spend with your family, getting to bond with them, and giving thanks to things that we would usually overlook. The environment is very fun, warming and everyone just gets along so well. It’s one of my favorite times of the year where my family is all together and we all get to celebrate together,” Horst explains.

 

I think we celebrate Thanksgiving because it’s a time of thanks and for everything to be at peace. I am thankful for my family, pets, teachers, friends. Pretty much everyone that I look up to. ”

— Emily Horst

 

           “First, it is a tradition. I can remember travelling to Western Pennsylvania as a child and celebrating Thanksgiving,” Hillwig said. “Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for the all the wonderful things we have; frankly a lot of places around the world do not have the same opportunities and amenities as we do.”

 

“I feel so thankful and blessed to have a beautiful wife and two amazing children.  I am thankful for my wife and kids and our health. I am not uber thankful for the dog, Crosby.  However, I am not going to hold a grudge. And I will do my best to make him a part of the family.”

 

November 23 is one day where families and friends come closer together to share their love and gratitude. Even though people have different activities they do on Thanksgiving, in the end, they all have similar reasons why they celebrate Thanksgiving.

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