Traditions That Weather the Winter
Winter is a busy time for Hopkins students and faculty. Students tackle an increase of work, faculty busily manage their schedules, and every Hilltopper’s life is interrupted by the occasional snow day, which Assistant Head of School John Roberts said “are the best part of winter!” Whether enjoying the snow or cooking with family, Hopkins students and faculty find ways to bear the harsh winter.
The deep snow and cold that define winter sit at the heart of certain special traditions of Hopkins students and faculty. History teacher Errol Saunders revealed that he and other teachers have a tradition of walking to Cody’s Diner every time there is a snow day. Saunders said, “I always get two eggs on rye toast with hash browns. I then go to the New Haven Green and look at the snow sculptures,” he elaborates. On days when there is snow and school, Saunders challenges seventh and eighth graders to a ferocious snowball fight.
Hopkins students may savor turning off their alarms and enjoying a surprise sleepin on snow-day mornings, but they have more to do than sleep. “My family makes a fire on the first day it snows,” commented John Pitkin ’19. “We then sit together and enjoy the warmth.”
Donasia Gray ’18 looks forward to shoveling and making snow creations with her brothers. “I use the time to make a snow family with a small snow living room,” Gray explained. “Then I make hot cocoa and drink it on the snow couch I make until I freeze!”
Food also plays an important role in many holiday traditions. Corrine Wilklow ’17 and her family eat mincemeat cookies filled with sugar, raisins, apples, and spices. “We make them during Thanksgiving and Christmas each year with the same recipe,” explained Wilklow. “My grandmother is passing the recipe down to me this year to make them for my whole extended family.”
Holden Turner ’17 bakes a homemade gingerbread house with royal icing. “It’s a fun tradition to get together and create a distinct, homemade treat,” he said.
Italian teacher Dr. Teresa Picarazzi makes sausage with her family each January, using a recipe brought from Italy 60 years ago: “We buy about 50 pounds of pork and then chop it into little pieces for the sausage. Hours later, we spice the meat with orange rind, salt, hot pepper, and garlic, and then twist off the sausage links.”
Clare Boyle ’16 takes part in a special Polish tradition with her relatives in Michigan during the holiday season. One aunt buys an oplatke, which is a thin wafer bread. It is passed around in a circle and eaten along with granting a wish to the next person in line. “Since the family is so big, people don’t always know what’s going on in each other’s lives,” Boyle shared. This annual tradition serves as a way for extended relatives to catch up with each other.
Hopkins students and faculty have special holiday traditions. Anna Mindell ’18 gets together with her family and friends each holiday to make latkes and cookies. “My family is Jewish and my friends are not,” Mindell explained, “So it’s kind of fun for them to celebrate Hanukkah with us each year!”
Family and friends figure prominently in most winter traditions. Math teacher Ms. Julia Rowny has what she calls a Yankee Swap/Bad Santa: a get together with her family each Christmas. Each person can either open a random gift from under the tree when it’s his or her turn or “steal” an already opened gift from someone else. “I find the tradition hilarious,” Rowny said. “Not only is it easier than buying twenty presents for different people in my family, but I’ve also come to realize my family members are way more competitive than I realized!”
Katie Broun ’19 sings in the Elm City Girls’ Choir, which hosts an annual concert during the holiday season. “We sing fun holiday songs,” she said. “It’s an amazing way to spread joy and cheer.” This sense of togetherness is the best part of the winter season. As Grace Barket ’18 said, “There is no better way to celebrate winter than being with friends and family.”