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December 20, 2022
Every year in December the holiday season begins. From religious celebrations to family traditions, all are celebrated. Christmas, to Hanukkah, to Kwanzaa, everyone may participate. While these holidays may be similar, they each have their own practices and customs.
The worldwide celebration known as Christmas takes place every year on the 25th of December. People from all around the world gather with their family to celebrate. Religious or not, everyone can participate. Some take on the more traditional and religious side of the holiday by going to church, celebrating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, and decorate by setting up a representation of the nativity scene. Some prefer to stick with the more cultural and commercial side of Christmas. The cultural tradition is based around Santa Claus, who, every Christmas eve comes down your chimney to deliver gifts. To prepare for his arrival, families leave small offerings usually in the form of cookies and milk. The ones participating in the holiday, decorate with a Christmas tree, mistletoes, and more! They then spend time with their families and friends, exchange gifts, eat together, and overall treasure each other's presence. Some may celebrate the more religious side of the holiday while incorporating some of the traditions. The holiday actually started in Egypt. It is believed to have been instituted on December 25th as a way of assimilating a pagan holiday, the Saturnalia festival. Nowadays, people of various religious backgrounds may still participate in the celebration.
The Jewish holiday Hanukkah takes place in December. This year, Hanukkah is from December 18th to December 26th. Hanukkah means dedication and is also often called the festival of light. It originated in Israel after the Syrian/Greeks tried to invade Israel. After regaining Israel, the Jewish people had very little left and wanted to light the seven menorah. Unfortunately, they only had enough oil to keep a the lights burning for one day but a miracle occurred as the oil lasted for 8 whole days, creating the tradition of Hanukkah, where they now light the Menorah.
Kwanzaa is an African-American tradition that takes place every year from December 26th to January 1st. The name was taken from a Swahili phrase that means first fruits. It was founded in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, an activist that wished to create a non-religious holiday centered around family and culture. It is based on seven principles: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba) and faith (imani). During the holiday, they celebrate the kinara that holds seven candles, one black, three red, and three green, which represents the people, the struggle, and the future. The people who celebrate it gather with their family to feast, as the holiday was inspired by the harvest festival traditions. They also exchange gifts that are usually homemade.
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