Diverse Holiday Traditions

Jasmine Masalmeh

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We’ve heard the merry jingling of Christmas songs echo through our shops and stores as displays are filled to the brim with various Christmas scenery, adorned with white snow and rich red products. Although a beloved and popular holiday, Christmas is not the only holiday celebrated around the winter time that brings family and tradition together. Take a rain check on the reindeers and ribbon and learn a little more about what’s out there to celebrate.

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrated for eight days during the winter time to commemorate the miracle of the olive oil burning for eight days in the Holy Temple. A menorah represents the candles used in the temple, and the raised center candle is used to light one candle after another with the succession of the days. There are games, such as spinning the dreidel, and oil-based foods in honor of the miracle. It’s a time of togetherness, tenderness and love.

Another holiday celebrated is Kwanzaa, a Pan-African holiday created by Maulana Karenga in the 1960s. It is compared to Juneteenth and has a similar background of honoring harvest, family and connection. It’s typically celebrated from Dec. 26 to Jan 1. This holiday was meant to honor African heritage and the first fruits from harvest, so there is a noticeable symbolism of fruits and vegetables native to the regions in the decorations. Similar to Hanukkah, Kwanzaa also involves lighting candles – kinara candles – on a display, usually in red, black and green colors. This celebration is all about honoring the things we have and being grateful for our friends and family.

Celebration isn’t exclusive to one holiday or even one region or background. Celebration is meant to enchant and excite everyone who partakes of it. So whether you’re celebrating Christmas or creating your own winter traditions, we all have a right to celebrate openly, freely and together.