Christmas from another P.O.V.

How Albanians celebrate holiday cheer


Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

Sara Milaj and Adriana Duhanaj

December holidays are one of the most celebrated times of the year in the United States. However, this time of the year is not unique to just Americans, but celebrated all over the world. This article features the holiday celebration for a different culture that is not widely known and that many students may not be as familiar with: the Albanian culture.

Students of Albanian descent represent 30 different families here at RHS, as families who speak Albanian at home. Yet, there are many more Albanian students who speak English, but still celebrate and identify with the Albanian culture. Christmas is still celebrated, although it looks slightly different from the common American traditions.

Albanians are very dedicated to their traditions, and the holidays are when they can make those traditional practices shine through in a unique way. Closeness to family and the community, mouth-watering foods, and cultural pride is what make Albanians such a prominent community.  

Food is the main topic of discussion in Albanian households. The traditional food ties way back to other cultures, but has found a way to integrate new ingredients to make it unique to Albania.

“On the dinner table, we usually fill it with a variety of dishes,” a fellow Albanian sophomore said. “There’s a lot of lamb, roasted potatoes, and whatnot, and for dessert, my favorites to eat are ravani (syrup cake) and tamel me oris (rice pudding).” 

Many Albanian foods and desserts seem relatively similar to neighboring cultures, such as Baklava or kadaif but as history progressed, Albanians have altered them and made them their own traditional recipes. Other long-standing traditions that Albanians have for Christmas is that for Catholics, one of Albania’s main religions, the dinner feast would not start until 12 am on the day Jesus was born in order to acknowledge the struggles of the Holy Family and show solidarity with people in need all over the world.

Another tradition that slightly differs from Americans is that Albanians open their gifts from under the tree on Christmas Eve. Some American Albanians, however, have changed to Christmas day to keep in step with the American tradition. 

“My family opens gifts on Christmas Eve, and then on Christmas Day we go to mass and have people over,” an RHS freshman said. 

When interviewing various Albanian students at RHS and asking them what the best thing about their culture was, most responded with how proud they are of their culture and why they love it.

“The best thing about being Albanian is the culture and having big families, because we are a really close community and everyone knows each other,” an RHS junior said. “And even though Albania is such a small country, our community is large and strong. We always know how to have a good time and our music is absolutely fire.”