For the December Junior Saints, students illustrated and wrote about their family’s Christmas traditions. We wish you all a blessed Advent and a merry Christmas.

Arlo John L. Pangilinan, seventh grade, St. Columba School, Oxon Hill, Maryland   – “As the coming of Jesus Christ is fast approaching, our family is looking forward to celebrating one of the Filipino traditions called Simbang Gabi, or Night Mass. The Simbang Gabi is a nine-day novena before the arrival of Jesus. These nightly Masses fall on Dec. 16 through Dec. 24. In attending the Masses, we listen to the words of Christ and afterward, we eat a celebratory meal together with the other parishioners. I am always excited to share this happy cultural tradition with my family.”

 Camille Urcia, eighth grade, St. Columba School, Oxon Hill, Maryland – “Every year on Christmas, my family and I take turns opening presents by our Christmas tree.” 

Joseph Annulis, eighth grade, Our Lady Star of the Sea School, Solomons, Maryland – “Each Advent my family celebrates a very special tradition. This Advent tradition has been in my family for generations. My mom practiced this special tradition when she was a little girl, as did her mother before her and her grandmother before that. It may have been going on even longer than these four generations. The first Sunday in Advent we put up our manger. Then during the entire Advent season we offer sacrifices on behalf of Our Lord. Each time we do something kind for someone else or make some sort of sacrifice, we offer it up for Our Lord and put a piece of hay in the manger. We do this every day during the Advent season. Then by Christmas Day when Our Lord is born the manger is filled with lots of soft hay for His birth!”

Josette Amado, seventh grade, St. Columba School, Oxon Hill, Maryland – “The Christmas traditions that my family practices are setting up the Christmas tree, this symbolizes the coming of Jesus Christ and a new life. Even though we don’t have an Advent wreath, we still think of it. The last tradition is a special tradition my family and I do. We set up our parol, a parol is a Filipino lantern. This symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem that guided the wise men to Jesus Christ.”

Justin Reid, eighth grade, St. Columba School, Oxon Hill, Maryland “– A Christmas tradition that my family does is count down the days until Christmas. We always take a Christmas picture in special areas and we always pray and thank God for all He has done.” 

Lily Ritz, Blessed Sacrament School, Washington, D.C. “– A family tradition I celebrate every year at Christmas is visiting the national Christmas tree. We visit it at night. I love seeing all the lights because they are so beautiful. Normally we get dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill then walk toward the White House to see the tree. Another tradition is my grandparents take us to the Botanical Gardens near the U.S. Capitol. I love to see all the flowers and the wooden models. There is also a big Christmas tree at the end, too. I love all these traditions.”

Mariah Pleta, eighth grade, St. Columba School’ Oxon Hill – “My family loves Christmas. Every year, we decorate the outside of the house with a lot of lights and inflatables. Inside the house, we have a big Christmas tree, stockings above the fireplace, and deck the halls. We usually see all of our extended families on Christmas Eve and then celebrate again on Christmas Day with my parents’ immediate families.”

Quinton Fonge, fifth grade, The Academy of St. Matthias the Apostle, Lanham, Maryland – “A Christmas tradition I practice with my family is decorating the Christmas tree.  We put together the Christmas tree after Thanksgiving to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  My mom and I decorate our Christmas tree every year.  We wrap ribbons and hang ornaments on the tree.  The last thing we do to decorate the tree is put an angel on top of it.  Our tree is in the living room in front of the window, so our neighbors can see the decorations.  This is my favorite Christmas tradition.” 

 Sunhee Han, eighth grade, St. Columba School, Oxon Hill, Maryland  – “We always have a huge meal during Christmas, usually for holidays we set ourselves off from work and other events. Christmas is a time other than Thanksgiving where we give thanks to each other. Even though everyone in my family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, I could at least celebrate the gift of God and his Son, Jesus Christ.”

Stewart Heller, first grade, Cardinal Hickey Academy, Owings, Maryland