A Wonderful Time of Year: A Look at Holiday Celebrations.

Written By: Quill Skidmore

It’s finally winter break and all around the world winter holidays are being celebrated. Throughout many cultures many different celebrations are happening, including Hanukkah, Yule, Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Kwanzaa, and of course the more well-known Christmas. I myself celebrate Hanukkah, Yule and Christmas. I will tell you a little bit about all of the listed holidays and how they are celebrated.

hanukkah
Candles in a Menorah are a well known symbol of Hanukkah

Hanukkah is celebrated to remember an ancient Jewish story in which, under drastic situations involving war, the Jewish people managed to have oil for a lamp last 8 days instead of the one night it was supposed to. In celebration and remembrance of the stories, Jewish people light one candle for eight nights in a row. Sometimes they play games or give small gifts. This year Hanukkah will take place the 24th of December through the first of January.

 

Yule, or the Winter Solstice, is celebrated by pagans worldwide.  It is the celebration of the sun’s return. It takes place on the longest night of the year to celebrate the fact that the days will now slowly grow longer as spring returns. The celebration has Germanic origins but can also be traced, with different names, to cultures all across the globe. It is one of the oldest holidays still celebrated today. There are many ways to celebrate Yule but most often is with a feast and a candle ceremony. Some people also open presents for Yule, although that is a newer way of celebrating.  This year yule happens to occur on Wednesday, December 21.

feast
A mass and procession to honor and celebrate Feast of Our Lady Guadalupe. Photo courtesy of catholiccompany.com

Feast of Our Lady Guadalupe is a Mexican holiday. It is a time to feast, pray and honors Jesus’ mother Mary, who is Mexico’s patron saint. It is said that Mary visited a man in a vision in 1513 and since then they celebrate the virgin Mary or as she is called in the Mexican culture, Lady Guadalupe. It is a Catholic holiday that took place on December 12th this year.

Kwanzaa is celebrated by African American people to honor their heritage. It is a week-long celebration that involves lighting candles. The seven candles stand for seven principles:

beautiful-kwanzaa-candles-holder-facebook-cover-picture
Candles are widely used to celebrate Kwanzaa. Often, the black candle in the center is used to light the remaining 6 candles from left to right.
  • Umoja (Unity)
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics):
  • Nia (Purpose)
  • Kuumba (Creativity)
  • Imani (Faith)

All seven of these principles are incredibly important to the people who celebrate Kwanzaa and Kwanzaa is a time to reflect on these and other important parts of their community. Kwanzaa takes place December 26 to January 1

Lastly, there is Christmas. Christmas was originally meant to celebrate the birth of Jesus, although today it is celebrated differently throughout the world. We like to think of it as a time to be with our loved ones and give gifts and be together. Many watch Christmas movies and sing songs together. It is a time to think of peace and to see loved ones you may not have seen in a long time. For children it is about the excitement of Santa Claus visiting and gifts under the tree. Christmas takes place on December 25th.

Whichever holiday you celebrate, may it be a good one!

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