Other Celebrations During The Holiday Season

Other Celebrations During The Holiday Season

You may not know, this but there are lots of holidays in these coming months. There are the big ones like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Hanukkah, but I’m here to tell you about the ones that don’t get mentioned that much. 

One of the larger holidays is Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26 to January 1. It is a celebration of African American culture, and over 6 million people celebrate it every year. Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, an American activist, after the Watts riots. To celebrate Kwanzaa families decorate their home in bright African cloth and wear cultural clothing. There are ceremonies, music, and celebration. Each day a candle is lit for the holiday’s seven principles:  unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani). On the last day a feast is held called karamu. Kwanza has lots of symbols for the African American community and is celebrated all over America. 

Yule is a holiday you’ve probably heard about in Christmas carols, but it’s still a holiday celebrated today. Yule has a history of being a Christian holiday, but it didn’t originate that way. Yule, before it was absorbed into Christmas, was a Pagan festival to celebrate the winter solstice. It is one of the oldest winter festivals. It can be dated back to thousands of years ago when the Ancient Norse celebrated it. Since it is so old, it is hard to pinpoint why Yule was celebrated in the first place. It does have the traditional themes for most winter celebrations of light, fire, and feasting. It is also possible that people gave sacrifices to the gods or even the dead. In modern times Yule is celebrated by Neo-Pagans. Some celebrations try to recreate ancient traditions, but it has also been adapted to modern times and other religions. Some of the traditions still celebrated today are wreaths made of pine, mistletoe, and ivy, to represent protection and prosperity. Yule logs are also a part of that tradition. They were originally meant to be burned, but you can make them into a snack instead. 

I know everyone has heard of Hanukkah, but what is it really about? Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that celebrates Judaism and its ideals by lighting candles for each day of the festival. It is celebrated for eight days beginning on Kislev 25 (sometime in December.) Some celebrations that occur are reading of scripture, eating oil based treats, giving gifts, and playing dreidel. Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days because Judas Maccabeus entered the Second temple of Jerusalem and only found enough oil to burn for one day but it burned for eight instead. The menorah has eight spots for the candles that will be lit and a spot for the servant candle, which is the candle used to light the others. The candles are placed from right to left but lit form left to right. 

Sometimes it’s hard to look past our own traditions and see that every culture has its own traditions and values. It’s good to learn about them. It allows us to see the similarities of our cultures and brings us closer together. I want you to take at least one thing from this article, and it’s that you should go out there and explore different cultures because you might be surprised at what you find. 

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