Sleigh Bells Jingling, Taste Buds Tingling

The favorite holiday dishes of Stuyvesant students.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“For Christmas, we buy a live octopus, we kill it, and it’s good. It is special because I can actually help make it so I bond with my family.”—Alvaro Hernandez-Jenaro, sophomore

“Definitely shemai! It’s this milky, sweet Bengali dish for fun events. It’s a family tradition for my mother to make it every Eid; we wake up, have shemai for breakfast, and go to Eid salat. It’s so yummy!” —Tajree Tabassum, sophomore 

“My favorite holiday dish is rice on Chinese New Year. It represents longevity and my Asian culture. Rice is just good. It can be mixed with so many other toppings and it makes it so much better. It can be mixed with soy sauce.” —Caden Ng, freshman

“Vasilopita because I love getting the coin and being lucky; I love winning!” —Mira Nambiar, junior

“In the spring we have Easter at my grandfather’s [house] upstate and he always buys local leg of lamb to celebrate the holiday. He trims it and studs it with rosemary and garlic cloves and rubs it with salt and olive oil. It’s usually the first time the grill comes out in the spring and it always made me and my sister so excited for the new beginnings the holiday represented (and that summer is getting closer every day!). Because he cooks it so slow, it’s always a celebration to be outside and be with family to eat a festive, traditional meal.” —Ruby Kennedy, sophomore

“Probably potato latkes. I always made [them] at my grandparents house with my friends and everyone, so it’s a special family bonding experience.” —Rose Geen, sophomore

“My favorite dish is more of an appetizer, but I love a good pull-apart Christmas tree. It’s just cheesy bread in the shape of a Christmas tree, and it’s the thing I look forward to every Christmas family reunion.” —Sophie Huang, sophomore

“My favorite holiday dish is roti with beef, and I eat it during Eid. The roti is a little dry and flavorless, but because of that it’s very versatile. The beef really compliments it because it’s so aromatic and tender. It means a lot to me because my mom makes it, and I love my mom. It brings people together, and you can’t go wrong with it.” —Mahjabin Chowdhury, sophomore 

“Vermicelli for Chinese New Year. Eat these long noodles for a long life. The noodles are very long and silky, and the broth tastes amazing.” —Ivan Zou, junior

“We eat it for Losar, or Tibetan New Year. It’s a weird name—thenthuk. ‘Then’ means to pull and ‘thuk’ means noodle, so hand-pulled noodles. We eat thenthuk all the time, but the special part is this dough ball that you cook with the thenthuk [that] you can put ingredients into. It really depends on each family, but in my family, we just put a piece of paper in the ball. Each ingredient or word on the paper is labeled and has a meaning. Salt means lazy, chili means you talk a lot—you have a hot mouth—cactus means you’re a prickly person, and moon means good luck.” —Tenzin Gyaltsok, freshman

“I can't really think of a favorite but one [holiday food] I enjoy [is] mooncakes. I don't know how to explain it but it has a thick skin and is filled with a sweet filling, and the ones I got usually had salted eggs inside. As you might know, mooncakes are for the Mid-Autumn Festival, and during my childhood, my parents would always get some for me and my brother. Over the years, I've gotten to really enjoy the variety of mooncakes.” —Eric Cen, freshman

“Mashed potatoes! [They’ve] always been a staple in my family, and I really love the way my mom makes them. [They] bring back memories of warmth and home.”—Daniella Nkunga, sophomore 

“I think I would say the Chinese desert nian gao. It’s a thick rice cake. My family usually makes it on New Years and I know it symbolizes the gathering because it’s sticky, so it sticks people together and also sticks good luck around you.” —Jaylyn Huang, sophomore

“My family usually makes hotpot for Thanksgiving, so I think I like that one. Hotpot is a family gathering type of meal and usually, my parents are working late, but on Thanksgiving, they can join us and we can all eat together for that.” —Zody Yen, sophomore

“An ice cream sundae because it’s sweet and cold and matches the weather!” —Larissa Li, freshman

“Okay, it’s gonna be a little sketch but my favorite holiday dish is potato with oyster mushrooms, an absolute Slavic classic—it’s exactly as it sounds. We have it for holidays, and combined with the typical roast chicken [and] fried food meal that you get on Thanksgiving and New Year’s, it really accentuates the normally-bland Slavic cuisine.” —Mark Ionis, junior