This time of year is special for cultures and religions all over the world. Toledo is no exception, with a number of cultures that celebrate with different traditions in and around December, bringing together tolerance and understanding at a time of year when universal peace and love can be shared by one and all.
The Rosen family
Barry and Lisa Rosen
For the family of Barry and Lisa Rosen of Toledo, Hanukkah, the Jewish eight-day celebration of light, is spent focused on family. “Hanukkah is a very peaceful, quiet time for our family; there’s no hype and big explosion, because it really isn’t one of the major Jewish holidays,” Lisa said. “We give gifts to the kids and light the Menorah for eight nights.” Making potato latkes, putting out decorations and adding to their collection of dreidels are also in keeping with the traditions celebrated by their family. The Rosen family honors the traditions of family during Hanukkah. The Shamash is the candle that stands at the highest point in the menorah. “It is really beautiful,” said Lisa. “It continues to build each night, so it just gets brighter and brighter.” For the Rosen family, the peaceful time of Hanukkah is looked forward to for the special memories and time spent with their family.
The Sherman family
Meredith and Ryan Sherman
The Sherman family in Perrysburg gets ready for the holidays with an Advent calendar, counting down the days until Christmas on December 25. A past tradition was to gather at their great grandmother’s home to bake Christmas cookies, until splitting up to go to various church services on Christmas Eve, a tradition still observed by the Shermans. With a Christmas tree and hanging stockings, the Sherman family opens all their gifts and stockings from Santa and family on Christmas morning. “We have the kids sit at the top of the stairs for a photo each Christmas morning; we’ve been doing that since they were small,” said Meredith. Sharing time with family and friends makes the holiday season for the Shermans extra special.
The Mohamed/Nazzal family
Iman Mohamed and Dr. Munier Nazzal
The family of Iman Mohamed and Dr. Munier Nazzal of Toledo have just enjoyed celebrating the season of the Hajj. The Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and is a pilgrimage to Mecca. The holiday, Eid al-Adha, celebrates the story of Abraham. This year, the holiday was celebrated in mid-November; however, in years past, it has fallen during December because Islam follows a lunar calendar. “We eat lamb, invite friends and family, donate money to the poor and wear something new,” said Iman. The pilgrimage to Mecca is a strenuous journey, so the participants are not to fast for health reasons; however, those who do not take the pilgrimage do fast from sunrise to sunset in celebration. The Hajj is taken once in a lifetime, and all Muslims stand on Arafat Mountain in Saudi Arabia to worship. The family of Iman Mohamed and Dr. Nazzal made the pilgrimage to Mecca in 2006, but enjoy the celebration with family and friends during this special time of year.
The Ward family
The Ward family of Perrysburg celebrates the Christian holiday of Christmas, and as Mormons, observe the holiday with special family traditions. After Thanksgiving, Leah Ward wraps a collection of Christmas stories, and the family opens one or two per night during the month of December. Coming together to celebrate the holiday season with caroling, fruit basket delivery, and even a live performance of the Christmas nativity, the Wards share some special traditions in their family. Opening gifts on Christmas Eve, reading from Luke Chapter Two from The Bible and awakening to a Christmas breakfast and stockings are loved by all members of the family. “We try to make it fun for the kids, while keeping the religious meaning,” said Steve. The Ward family also uses a scrapbook with passages of scriptures as well as their children’s drawings and other pictures to teach and relate the special meaning Christmas holds to their family.