By: Isabelle Huang
During the month of December, there are multiple festivities and holidays that people celebrate around the world. Of which, Christmas is one of the most popular holidays. However, there are also other celebrations and holidays that take place during this time of the year. Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are also observed during the winter holiday season. Although both holidays may not be as widely celebrated as Christmas but, they still hold important meanings and history behind them.
Kwanzaa is celebrated for seven days and starts on December 26th and lasts until January 1st. This holiday first started in 1966 and was introduced to the United States by Dr. Maulana Karenga as a ritual to welcome the first harvests’ arrival. Kwanzaa is a celebration of family, community, and culture in addition to reconnect with people’s African roots and heritage. During the celebration, a different principle is discussed along with lighting a candle each night. Additionally, the number seven has significant meaning for this holiday. There are seven principles and seven symbols that guide the values and traditions during this 7-day celebration period. Interestingly, the word Kwanzaa is also spelled with seven letters.
Hanukkah (Festival of lights), on the other hand, is an 8-day holiday which celebrates the rededication of the temple of Jerusalem after it was retaken by the Maccabees. The Maccabees were a group of Jewish warriors from the Greeks in the 2nd century B.C.E. This holiday is important because it reminds Jews about dedication and what they went through to preserve Judaism through tough times. Despite Hanukkah’s different origin, it shares the tradition of gift-giving just like Christmas and Kwanzaa except the gift-giving lasts for eight days! Similar to Kwanzaa, Hanukkah also lights a candle each night. During the celebration, families eat fried food such as potato pancakes (Latkes) and doughnuts (Sufganiyot).
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, and/or Hanukkah during this holiday season, please be sure to stay safe and have a great winter break!
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