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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Adam Rozenberg's family gathers every year on Christmas Eve to roast a pig.

Nha-Uyen Hua's family of about 25 crowds in her grandmother's house, where her aunts and uncles tell the young ones about immigrating to the U.S.

Kevin French's family decorates the tree - the "Hanukkah bush" - with silver and blue.

These are but a few of the traditions UF students will celebrate in the coming weeks.

Soon, exams and final papers will be but laments on students' lips as they lounge on their couches.

During that time of relaxation, some students will celebrate their families' traditions - whether the traditions are centuries-old customs or recent family habits.

Rozenberg, a 19-year-old electrical engineering sophomore, said he isn't sure why his Cuban family roasts a pig every Christmas Eve.

It starts simply - a gathering at his uncle's place - but, soon enough, someone breaks out the alcohol and everybody gets drunk.

The next day, he'll wake up at 8 a.m. as a joke to bother his sleeping parents.

His mother gets preemptive revenge by pestering him weeks beforehand to put up decorations, he said.

Hua, a 19-year-old microbiology freshman, said her family drives to her grandmother's place in Sarasota out of consideration for the oldest members of the family.

The children get mounds of presents, and the young adults get cash.

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"It's more practical," Hua said.

The adults don't get gifts, except for the elders, who get gifts out of respect.

They go to Catholic Mass and hear about a baby in a manger, but the main stories of the holiday revolve around their own family.

Her grandfather, who was born in Vietnam, came to the U.S. with half of his children.

Hua said her aunts and uncles laugh as they retell how they fought over the one bed in their two-bedroom home.

Now the family is spread among several cities.

"I think that's why they're grateful to spend time with family: because they spend so much time apart," she said.

French, an 18-year-old materials science and engineering freshman, celebrates Christmas and Hanukkah, but he admits he's not very consistent with celebrating Hanukkah.

"If we remember, we light the menorah at sundown," French said.

The tree is decorated with Jewish colors, but this year, red sneaked in.

During Hanukkah, he'll get chocolate as gifts and eats latkes and pot roast.

When Christmas Day arrives, he'll celebrate with a big egg-and-sausage breakfast at his mom's house.

"All the wonderful breakfast stuff," he said.

Then it's off to his dad's house for lunch.

"By dinnertime, all I want to do is sleep," he said.

As far as gifts go, he's asking only for running shoes and a new watch to replace his old one.

"I never know what I want for Christmas," he said.

He thought about it.

"I want free A's," he said.

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