Romans Jingle and Mingle


Edie Park

At Chicago’s beloved Christkindlmarket, one shop sells handmade stars to help get people into the holiday spirit.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and students and teachers at Latin are eagerly preparing for the holiday season with family, food, and traditions.

After a tiring first semester, Upper School Learning Resources specialist Brianna Malin is looking forward to spending time with her family. “I don’t get to see my niece and nephew often, so I’m excited to see them,” she said. “One fun thing we do every year is wear matching holiday-themed pajamas with my family, and we also sometimes play holiday games.”

For Ms. Malin, Christmas is a time to bond with her family through food. “On Christmas Eve, we eat seven different types of fish,” she said. “On Christmas Day, my mom and I make homemade meatballs, braciole, and lasagna.”

While Ms. Malin’s family opts for Italian food and seafood, the signature holiday food for freshman Pilar Alexander is corn casserole, which her grandmother makes a large batch of each year. Pilar’s family is big on celebrating Christmas, and for over 30 years they have been decorating their house with a life-sized Santa that they call Jingles.

“A few Christmases ago, one of my aunts got up in the middle of the night to pour herself a glass of water,” Pilar said. “When she came back upstairs, she started screaming because she thought that Jingles was an intruder in the house.”

Upper School English teacher James Joyce also has a decades-long Christmas tradition; every year his family buys new ornaments and writes the date and year. “My parents may have gotten some of them when I was a baby,” he said. Mr. Joyce has a six-month-old son named Freddy, who will be celebrating his first Christmas this year. “My wife and I [are] excited to get him an ornament.”

Between taking care of his son and balancing his role as a teacher, Mr. Joyce is also looking forward to some downtime. “The most exciting part of [winter break] for me is sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee and a book, and just,” he said. “I usually have a big stack that I read over the course of probably a year.”

Meanwhile, sophomore Emma Vallenilla is celebrating Hanukkah with her family with a special tradition. “We light every single Hanukkiah we have in the house,” she said. A Hanukkiah has nine candles, and one candle is lit each day. “My sister and I used to make a Hanukkiah in school as an art project, and we’ve also gotten some from Israel.”

Emma’s relatives all live out of the state or country, so she often travels during winter break to see them. “Sometimes we’ll travel to Florida to see them,” she said. “I really like just being with my family and getting to see each other [during the] holidays.”

Senior Uma Vadali is also traveling out of the country over the break for her family. “I’m going to India to scatter my grandpa’s ashes because he passed away last winter,” she said. “I’m also going to have my Prom dress made there, so I’m excited about that.”

Before traveling, however, Uma will go to the temple as she does each year for Diwali. “It’s [about] celebrating our religion and just a good way to celebrate culture and family,” she said. “I like going to the temple with my family because we all get to be together.”

Whether students and teachers are celebrating Diwali, Christmas, or Hanukkah, in town or out of town, all community members will surely enjoy some much-deserved rest after a busy first semester.