An all-inclusive holiday season


Illustration by Katie Hernandez using Canva

AHS students share their favorite holidays and traditions during the holiday season. “I hope everyone has a great holiday season this year, and have fun and be safe,” senior Grace Gibbins said.

Katie Hernandez, Graphic Designer

It is undeniable that the transition between fall and winter brings giddy feelings about the upcoming holiday season. However, it can become easy to get wrapped up in our own traditions and forget about the numerous holidays celebrated by the public, including the diverse students of Ankeny High School.


  Thanksgiving is a widely celebrated holiday in the United States of America, where families get together to celebrate what they are thankful for. 

“We get our family together and we eat a big meal [with] extended family every other year [and] we switch which side, so we either go to Omaha or we host, “ senior Grace Gibbins said.

 Despite the center of the holiday being surrounded by family and giving thanks, the secondary aspects of Thanksgiving cannot be ignored.

“The days after [Thanksgiving], eating turkey sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls with cranberry sauce,” Gibbins said. 

Shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday of 2021, another widely celebrated holiday began, Hanukkah. 


This year, the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah fell only a few days after Thanksgiving, Nov. 28-Dec. 6.  

“[We are] celebrating the miracle of one drop of oil [that] lasted for eight whole days and allowed for the eternal flame in the temple to still be lit, and allowed for the Jewish people to make more oil and keep the flame lit,” sophomore Scott Kruse said. 

This eight-day long holiday is packed full of traditions, and Kruse elaborated on his favorites. 

“My favorite part, aside from presents, of course, is lighting the menorah. It’s just such a neat moment and really cool to watch,” Kruse said. “I also love the food. It’s so unhealthy but so good! And dreidel is always fun with friends!”

However, despite the excitement over the holiday, Kruse explains some of the problems facing Jewish people around the holiday season.”That’s partially because the Jewish population in Ankeny, and in the U.S., in general, is very small.” 

To help with the misrepresentation of this holiday, Kruse had a few recommendations. 

“There are a couple of things you can do to be more ‘holiday neutral’. Saying ‘happy holidays’ is nice because you shouldn’t assume that someone celebrates Christmas…,” Kruse said. “If you want to really be holiday neutral, use symbols that aren’t Christmas [related, like] snow, stars, candles, etc.” 


Alongside Thanksgiving, Christmas is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the United States. For many, the end of December and the Christmas holiday bring with it a love for the season.

“I actually really like when it snows… and I really like baking… and I get to see my family and my sister comes home from college,” senior Emma Heine said. 

Traditions play a huge part in the celebration of the holiday as well. Many bake cookies on Christmas Eve, watch holiday movies and decorate a tree. However, Heine has some of her own special traditions. 

“I read all night [on] Christmas Eve because in some countries there is a tradition where on Christmas eve they give each other books and they spend the rest of the night reading those books before Christmas and I really like it so I did it.”

New Years

New Year’s Eve and New Years Day are celebrated throughout the world, but the students at Ankeny High School have their own traditions with the holiday. 

“I usually hang out with my friends and then we watch the ball drop, and play a bunch of games,” senior Morgan Gholson said. 

Additionally, New Year’s shows the importance of friends and family.

“I like hanging out with close friends and their family members,” Gholson said. 

Eid and Ramadan

The Muslim religion brings with it three major holidays, Ramadan, Eid al Adha, and Eid al Fitr. 

“Ramadan is the holy month of fasting, Eid al Adha is more about family, and Eid al Fitr is a celebratory holiday,”  junior Lejla Ahmetovic said.

These three holidays are spread out, in the upcoming year Ramadan will occur in April, Eid al Adha will be in May, and Eid al Fitr will also be celebrated in May. With three major celebrations occurring in the span of a few months, there are many traditions that coincide with these holidays. 

Ahmetovic mentioned her favorite is her mother’s Baklava. 

This dessert is not very common in Ankeny, but it is a sweet layered pastry that is enjoyed by many during the holiday season. 

Similar to many other holidays, Eid and Ramadan have not received as much recognition or acknowledgment during their times of celebration. 

“People don’t know about it” and “[people could be] more inclusive,” Ahmetovic said.