A Warm Welcome Back from the Winter Break at AskUG

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Good day to you, my lovelies! Your AskUG editor Erza Applebaum has had a great winter break, and I am sure you all did, too. If you all remember, in the last issue I listed a couple of things I plan to do over this holiday break and guess what? I finished almost all of them! Except for the cleaning and renovations adventure – that has halted since the end of December when I fell into the “all-day-PJs” abyss and didn’t get out of bed until the new semester began. Needless to say, my room is still shaded in light green, but I hold on to the idea to repaint it. If you have cool ideas on what I can do with this salad vomit shade, please let me know at!

This winter break was busy for all of us, so I have decided to answer all the questions that were asked at the beginning of December myself: let’s see what Erza Applebaum is made of.

Share your winter readings with us! What’s on your “to-read” list?

My “to-read” list includes “Outwitting the Devil” by Napoleon Hill, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson and “Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel” by George Saunders. Napoleon Hill is my favourite non-fiction author; I have seven other books by him. “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” has been trending for some time, so I decided to give it a try. “Lincoln in the Bardo” sounded amusing, besides, if I buy it at, I can get enough points to get those warm reading socks!

How does your culture greet this holiday season? Do you have traditions or special foods being prepared for the holidays?

My culture celebrates Christmas on January 7 and one thing that we do differently than Canadians is that we do not give gifts to each other for Christmas. Instead, we have about three or four other holidays before and after Christmas to do that. One of them is St. Nicholas Day on December 19. If you were lucky enough to be named Kateryna, Andrew, Roman, Anne, John, Peter, Nicholas, Basil or about ten dozen other names, then you get to celebrate your name day where you get gifts just because you were named that way. Free gifts! And it’s not even your birthday! You go, baby!

Winter in my tradition is filled with holidays: starting from December 1 and ending on February 23, every second or third day we celebrate something. We literally have three Christmases, so we prepare special food for each of the three Christmas Eves. Usually that is 12 vegetarian dishes representing 12 Apostles of Christ. We call the main dish kutia and make it from wheat, poppy seeds, nuts, honey and dried fruits.

In the light of wish-making, tell us what is your craziest dream of life and whether it has come true yet.

My craziest dream of life was to move to Newfoundland and open a small café there. It has not yet come true and I doubt that it will because my life plans have changed, like now, instead of moving to the East Coast I want to move to British Columbia – the Sunshine Coast.

In all honesty, tell us your secret opinion on Christmas.

Christmas is a weird holiday. Honestly, think about it: you cut down a tree, bring it into your home, decorate it, sing songs around it and give gifts to other people – all because supposedly a boy was born to a virgin woman 2017 years ago. In my culture, we don’t give gifts to each other on Christmas, so I guess Christmas means different things to different cultures; you just have to find what it truly means to you, like our contributor Kayona did:

“My “secret opinion” on Christmas is that it is primarily a time when Christians gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is about realizing that Jesus Christ came to earth to be born as a baby so that He could live His life doing miracles that pointed people back to God and died on a cross to provide forgiveness to the world for its sins against God.

Christmas therefore is about celebrating God’s forgiveness and love to us and a time to do the same with each other. God’s greatest gift to mankind is eternal life and forgiveness to all who will ask Him to forgive them of their sins.”

With the new semester upon us, it is time to roll up our sleeves and get back into tireless studying (*quiet groan in the distance*). The last year has been quite a ride. Let’s see what this one will bring us – and by the looks of it it’s nothing fun. At least some of us have Valentine’s Day to look forward to.

With love,

Erza Applebaum

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This article first appeared in the January issue of UTSC’s The Underground

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