Written by: Olivia Hope
No matter how different we might perceive to be, we are more similar in nature and deeds than we can even begin to imagine. It is that time of year, when the Spirit of the Holidays is flowing and gleaming in the night skies. From an Aurora that displays its natural lights in the Earth’s sky, to varying stars that flicker in the distances to the galaxies swirling and twirling to its own gravitational pull. The holidays are no different.
We tend to, at this time of the year, exhibit that same sensation that the night skies do. Gleaming, beaming, flickering, swirling and twirling to the traditional pulls of spending precious and magical times with our families and friends. Yes, we all celebrate these times in our own unique way but in the end its the same. DON’T BELIEVE ME? Let’s take a closer look at the three main festive celebrations we observe here in the United States.
We will begin with Hanukkah. Often called the Festival of Lights or Feast of Dedication, this holiday is celebrated by the lighting of the menorah, eating traditional foods, playing games and gifting. The lighting of the menorah begins on the first night with the candle on the far right which is lit by the shamash. The principle is to always light the newest candle first, then the candles from the previous nights. This eight-day Jewish celebration commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem which began in the second century B.C. Hanukkah begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, which falls in November or December. In 2020, Hanukkah will be celebrated Thursday, December 10 – Friday, December 18. In the book of John chapter 10 vs 22-23, Jesus attended the Feast of Dedication. “And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.”
There is not a better way to celebrate the birth of a child than the gift of one’s very own festive holiday. That’s right! I’m talking about Christmas. The annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, observed on December 25 as a sacred religious holiday and cultural celebration for billions of people around the world. Christmas day is celebrated with exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends, singing carols and for a lot of persons waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. In the fourth century Pope Julius 1 chose December 25th as the day to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity, which Christmas was originally called. It was decided to hold Christmas the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals.
And then there was Kwanzaa. In 1966, Dr. Maulana Karenga wanted to find a way to celebrate a less commercialized festival for Afro-Americans, and thus created Kwanzaa. This seven-day festival begins from December 26 to January 1 and is a ritual to welcome the first harvests to the home. Kwanzaa combines several aspects of different harvest celebrations from the Ashanti and Zulu cultures and actually means “first fruits” in Swahili. Families celebrate by songs, dances, drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. The candle-lighting ceremony each evening begins the activities. Each candle represents a principle, which begins with the black candle in the middle, the Unity candle.
If you have not found a traditional way to celebrate the holidays and none of the three festivals above fit your family, then guess what, you are free to make your own traditions. My family and I have opted not to celebrate any of the traditional festivals because we wanted to teach our children to be different. So NOW our family tradition that we have revamped over the years is that we open gifts (1 each, unless other relatives sent gifts for the children), eat a brunch, watch family movies, eat dinner and chill for the rest of the day. For us its a joy that brings so much happiness and peace to our home.
How will you be celebrating your holidays?