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The Three Big Winter Celebrations, Explained

Joi Scruggs, Staff Writer

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Celebrated by millions as joyous occasions, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa are three big winter season celebrations. But how did they originate?

Hanukkah originated from the war between the Jews and the Maccabees over a sacrifice for an idol. The war lasted eight days and the Jews won. They came up with a celebration that would have a menorah with eight candle sticks on it: one every day for eight days.  Jewish people light one of the candles and celebrate the victory with presents and games for each day.  It is also called “the festival of lights.” The most popular toy the Jewish people play with is the dreidel. The dreidel is a four-sided spinning top that can be used to place bets. Since the holiday is based on the Jewish calendar (25 Kislev), it happens on different dates on the traditional calendar each year.

Christmas is the most-celebrated holiday in winter. The origin of Christmas is from the Bible: the day Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus (the son that God sent to his people) in Bethlehem. The date of December 25 was chosen in 336 under the Roman emperor Constantine.  Three wise men came and brought gifts to the baby, and that is where the idea for giving presents began. Most Christians celebrate Christmas with a pine tree. You might be wondering why a pine tree. Well, pine trees are also known as evergreen trees who keep their greenness all year round. It is a symbol of life. It also stands out against the white snow. Traditions surrounding Santa “can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas” according to history.com. The Turkish monk lived around 300 and “Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends.”  The legend of St. Nicholas has become tied to Christmas, though there is no connection to the Christian biblical story other than the emphasis on kindness and giving.

 

Kwanzaa was started by the African Americans.  It is celebrated from December 26 to January 1 and ends with a feast and gift-giving. Maulana Karenga started it in 1966-67. This holiday is a little different than the other two in that it is not a religious holiday but a cultural one. It has seven symbols: Here are some of the main ones.

   Kinyara(The Candle Holder): This is symbolic of the roots– continental Africans.

    Muhindi (The Corn): This is symbolic of their children and future which they embody.

   Mishumaa Saba (The Seven Candles): These are symbolic of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles, the matrix and minimum set of values which African people are urged to live by in order to rescue and reconstruct their lives in their own image according to their own needs.

 

Every holiday is different and people will celebrate it differently. But remember, the key is to CELEBRATE not hate or debate.

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The Three Big Winter Celebrations, Explained