From Kwanzaa to Hanukkah, there are a plethora of celebrations throughout the month of December. For many, there’s more than just Christmas Day to think about and prepare for. The United States is home to people all over the world; learning more about world
religions and cultures is the best way to expand horizons.
One of the more well-known celebrations is Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The celebration begins Dec 12 and goes through Dec 20, and the Jewish population celebrates it all over the globe. Today, it’s
celebrated by lighting the menorah’s candles, eating traditional foods, singing songs, and handing out gifts.
Another familiar celebration is Kwanzaa, this holiday was created to celebrate
African-American heritage. Kwanzaa is believed to be a substitute for Christmas, is actually not a religious holiday. Beginning on Dec 26 and ending Jan 1, the celebrations are based upon the celebration of the seven principles or beliefs called the Nguzo Saba. In Swahili, Kwanzaa means “first fruit of the harvest”, and is a time to focus on traditional African family values. Each night, families light one of the seven candles on Kinara, symbolizing the seven principles.
Just south of the United States, Mexico and much of Central America celebrates Las Posadas, which honors the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem. During the nine-day festival, children and adults dress up for the occasion and walk through the town in a procession. Each night is followed by the breaking of a pinata, which is
usually shaped like a star to honor the one that led the three wise men to Jesus’ birth site.
Originally called Yule, this Pagan celebration is on Dec 21, which is a celebration of the darkest day of the year, and is one of the oldest celebrations in history. The core of the celebration is welcoming back longer days of sunlight and is usually viewed as a
powerful time or energy renewal and introspection.
Throughout the world, people celebrate all of the month of December with family and friends.
Celebrated world wide, Christmas is both a religious and commercial phenomenon. The name 'Christmas' comes from the Mass of Christ (or Jesus). A Mass service (which is
sometimes called Communion or Eucharist) is where Christians remember that Jesus died for us and then came back to life.
The eight-day Jewish celebration commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Hanukkah means "dedication" in Hebrew. It all began when Jews rose up against their Greek-Syriam oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt.
Kwanzaa is derived from the phase "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first fruits" in
Swahili. This African-American celebration was a response to the commercialism of Christmas. Celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal.