Tis the season for holidays from many faiths and cultures. Each have a wonderful meaning behind them. While we all celebrate our own religious or cultural holidays, I think it is important to understand the meaning of the others so we can respect their traditions and beliefs.
So, let’s begin:
This year’s dates: December 26th -January 1st
Kwanzaa is a seven day celebration of African heritage. It is a holiday that was started in 1966 by a professor at California State University. The holiday is said to come from Swhaili phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits.” The seven days represent seven core principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. This celebration is open to all religions because it’s about heritage and culture.
This year’s dates: December 22nd -December 30th
The Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication” and this holiday celebrates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple. In the second century BC, the Holy Land was controlled by the Seleucids who were trying to force the Jews to convert their beliefs and observe the Greek culture and gods. The Jews refused. They formed a small army that ended up defeating the mightiest army on Earth. They drove the Greeks out and reclaimed Jerusalem where they rededicated the Holy Temple to God. When they went to light the Menorah, they could only find a single day’s use of olive oil. The oil lasted eight days until the new oil had gone through the proper purity rituals.
This year’s dates: December 25th
Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus. The short version of this story begins with Mary was visited by an angel and the angel told her that she was pregnant, though a virgin. The angel said she is to name him Jesus and that he shall be the Son of God. She gave birth to Jesus in a manger near Bethlehem. The word of Jesus’ birth shook the nation. Many Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus by attending a church ceremony that celebrates Him and spending time with family, friends, and giving back.