We all know why we, personally, celebrate Christmas, but what does it mean to APU students and how do they celebrate?

What is the true meaning of Christmas? Despite the recent commercialization of the holiday, Christmas has always been about honoring the birth of Jesus Christ. In a Christian community like APU, I thought it would be interesting to see how students celebrate the holiday season and what Christmas means to them. 

This week I had the chance to interview a variety of APU students on what Christmas means to them. Among them are nurses, actors, native Californians and out-of-state students. Regardless of their differences, one thing remained consistent: the love they share for the Christmas season. 

The interview process for each student was simple. I asked two questions: what does Christmas mean to you? And what is your favorite Christmas memory or tradition? 


Ethan Jard’Re Martos is a 21-year-old public relations major and resident advisor from Ewa Beach, Oahu.

What does Christmas mean to you?

“Christmas is that one time throughout the chaotic year that is a constant. I will always see my family, will always eat good food and almost always enter the new year alongside the people I love.”

What is your favorite Christmas memory or tradition? 

“My favorite memory is always the fireworks when 12:00 a.m. Christmas hits in Hawaii. It’s an almost unspoken tradition that neighbors will buy fireworks and pop them as soon as Christmas hits.”


Jeff Holley is a 20-year-old nursing major from Orange, California. 

What does Christmas mean to you?

“It’s time you spend with family to celebrate the birth of Christ.”

What is your favorite Christmas memory or tradition? 

“My favorite Christmas tradition is prime rib dinner with my family on Christmas night. It’s my favorite dinner with my family, and it means a lot.”


Samantha Mariel is a 19-year-old biology major from Visalia, California. 

What does Christmas mean to you?

“Christmas means a time of love and showing love. Christmas wasn’t always the perfect time or the easiest time of year. My parents are divorced, so I experienced a broken household for Christmas from an early age. This is not what I remember the most, but I remember the love that brings everyone together. The joy of Jesus’ birth and the love that he showed this earth is what makes Christmas special to me.”

What is your favorite Christmas memory or tradition?

“I was born and raised Catholic, and in our church, we had traditional midnight mass on Christmas (so Christmas Eve going into Christmas). I have gone to my church’s midnight mass since I was born, and I haven’t missed a single one. After mass, we would go and get breakfast at the nearby Denny’s. This tradition is something I will carry on with my children and hope that they will find love and meaning in Christmas in Jesus.”


Kristin Olinger is a 20-year-old acting major from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

What does Christmas mean to you?

“Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, but because the Bible does not command the celebration of Christmas or even mention it as a holiday, I think of it more as a fun time with music and movies and chocolate. 

What is your favorite Christmas memory or tradition? 

“My favorite Christmas memory is when my brother threw wrapping paper on a candle and accidentally lit the table on fire.”


Tatum Tomlinson is a 20-year-old psychology major from Seattle, Washington.

What does Christmas mean to you, and how do you celebrate? 

“When I think about the Christmas traditions that my family has, there honestly aren’t very many, or at least none that are unique. But we’ve always had an open-door policy, meaning that anyone can come into our home for the holidays if they needed a family to celebrate with. So almost every year we would have at least one person who was almost a stranger to us, but by the end of the night, they were a good friend.

People need a space like that. For a lot of people, the holidays are very lonely, so growing up I always loved the sense of community that my mom would create in that way. Getting to know new people during a time that is commonly an intimate family gathering shaped my idea of what family is. Really, family is the community that you are part of, and thinking about community in that way is how I conceptualize what it means to ‘love your neighbor.’ 

What I also love about home — about Washington — is that it’s effortless to practice gratitude around Christmas time because of the beauty. All the trees covered in snow, everyone is pulling their kids on sleds behind their trucks — it’s really joyful.”


No matter how APU students choose to celebrate Christmas, their love of Christ shines through their practices and traditions. This season is a time of celebration and joy, and it demonstrates the tremendous power of human love made possible through Christ. 

As we head into the end of the semester and winter break, remember the meaning of the season, and have a merry Christmas APU!