Updated: Jul 25, 2020
We're already well into December and I cannot express how excited I am. Hanukkah already passed, but I'd still like to talk about this holiday later in the post. This post will tell you a little about the different holidays in December so you don't have to be that person who walks into that awkward conversation about a holiday you have no idea about. This post will cover Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Omisoka, Boxing Day, andOur Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta.
Starting with Hanukkah, a holiday that is celebrated by the Jewish. This year, Hanukkah started on Sunday night, December 2nd and went until the evening of December 10th. You may know this holiday as the one where a menorah is lit nightly, but there is much more to it that you may not have known. There is a lot of history behind this holiday. To start off, a long time ago the Greeks and Syrians attacked the Jews and due to this, the Maccabees which were the Jewish warriors revolted. While doing this, the Greeks destroyed their temple and ransacked their menorah. In that menorah there was very oil to keep it going. However, this menorah that was supposed to last one night lasted eight nights. This miracle is now celebrated by the Jewish religion when they light the menorah. It has eight candles that represents the eight nights that the menorah was lit for. There is one candle that is raised higher than the others and is called the sh'mash. It is basically a helper candle that you use to light the menorah. You place the candles from right to left and you light the candles from left to right. You light the sh'mash first then you use it to light the others in the order as mentioned in the last sentence. This is used to acknowledge the new candle representing the new night of Hanukkah before the others. On the first night of Hanukkah you say three prayers while you're lighting the menorah and on the other nights you only say two prayers. These prayers are said in Hebrew. The first prayer is saying "blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the light." The second blessing is about saying thank G-d for performing the miracles for the four fathers in those days at this time. The third prayer is about thanking G-d for allowing the Jewish and sustaining them to live this long. The dreidel is often used during the celebration of Hanukkah. It is like a gambling game and people usually gamble money or for kids you use gelt which are chocolate coins. A mitzvah is a good deed which follows the value of being a Mensch which is basically being a good person. It is often that the Jewishmake latkes which are potato pancakes. Similar to Christmas, they give a gift each night of Hanukkah and spend time with family. That is the main overview and brief history of Hanukkah sited by Emma Szydlow.
Kwanzaa starts December 26th and ends January 1st. This holiday is usually celebrated by the African heritage. The name comes from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first fruits". Maulana Karenga, the professor who created the holiday in 1966 set Swahili as the official language. He created this holiday to bring African Americans together as a community after seeing the riots in Los Angeles. He created this holiday by combining aspects of other holidays together such as Ashanti and Zulu. Kwanzaa is celebrated differently for each family. Usually there are songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, and the family gatherings. A child lights a kinara which has seven candles. One for each of their principles. The principles called Nguzo Saba are values of African culture which basically focuses on motivating the African community to come together. Kwanzaa also has seven basic symbols which represent the values and concepts of the African culture. On December 31st, a Karamu is held which is a an African feast. The seven principles are unity, self determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Overall, Kwanzaa is new, but is celebrated by many.
The holiday Omisoka is celebrated by the Japanese on Decmeber 31st. This is basically the New Year, but it is very important to the Japanese. This holiday is often symbolized as a fresh start. Literally. In Japan they clean out the clutter from the past year by cleaning from top to bottom. This is called "osoji". They also have a giant feast with friends and family with traditional Japanese food. There is a nation-wide talent show that people watch either from their tvs or in person that leads up to the New Year. At midnight the Japanese visit Shinto shrines and a bell is rung to signify the 108 earthly wants that created human suffering.
Boxing Day which is celebrated on December 26th originated from Britain. It is still celebrated in Great Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and other commonwealth countries. On this day in the past, servants, tradespeople, and the poor were given gifts to give to their families and the day off. By the 21st century this day became associated with shopping and other sporting events. For the situations for people who have maids, they usually do this before Christmas so they can have extra help for the clean up after Christmas festivities.
On December 12th, Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta occurred. She is the patroness of the Americas, unborn children, and the New Evangelization. She is basically the Hispanic version Virgin Mary. On December 12th, the virgin appeared to Juan Diego and ordered him to collect roses in his tilmatil which is a type of cloak. When he opened his cloak a dozen roses fell and it revealed the image of the Lady of Guadalupe imprinted on the inside. She symbolizes a blend of Spanish and native blood because of her blend of Aztec and Spanish heritage. She is used as a sign of patriotism throughout Mexico. It became a national Holiday in 1859 and is still celebrated when thousands gather at Mexico City's Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe to celebrate the patron saint's birthday. They bring candles and other offerings to honor her.
"Boxing Day." Brittannica, 2018, www.britannica.com/topic/Boxing-Day. Accessed 15 Dec. 2018.
"Everything You Need to Know about La Virgen De Guadalupe." HuffPost, Huffington Post, 12 Dec. 2013, www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/12/virgen-de-guadalupe_n_4434582.html. Accessed 15 Dec. 2018.
"Omisoka: Japanese New Year!" Kidz World, 28 Dec. 2013, www.kidzworld.com/article/26414-omisoka-japanese-new-year. Accessed 15 Dec. 2018.
Szydlow, Emma Molly. "Hannukkah." Lower Saucon, 14 Dec. 2018, Northampton County. Speech.