Other Holidays around Christmas

Elisa Ohler, Junior Trending Editor

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December is a time full of different celebrations; Christmas being the main focus, but Christmas isn’t the only big holiday around this time of the year.

Kwanzaa is one of the many celebrations around Christmas time. Kwanzaa is more of a cultural celebration than religious as it is a celebration that honors African heritage. Quite a few people celebrate both Kwanzaa and Christmas, or only Kwanzaa as an alternative to the Christian celebration. Kwanzaa begins on Dec. 26 and doesn’t end until Jan. 1.

The celebration centers around seven principles, Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith). They also have seven symbols; crops, mat, candleholder, corn, unity cup, gifts and seven candles. Seven candles are lit during the celebration, the first one is black, the second is red and the third is green. The four remaining candles alternate between red and green, which are the holiday’s colors. The seven candles are individually lit during the seven days of the celebration.

Hanukkah, also known as Chanukah, is another holiday celebrated around Christmas time. This year it began on Dec. 2 and ended on Dec. 10. Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. There are eight days and eight candles for the celebration of Hanukkah. Each day a candle is placed on the menorah and lit. There is a ninth candle used that is known as the shamash (helper). The first candle lit for the eight-day celebration is put on the right of the menorah. After the candle is placed on the menorah, two blessings are recited, the first is a blessing over the candles, and the second blessing expresses thanks for the miracle of deliverance. A third blessing is said only on the first night of Hanukkah called the Shehecheyanu prayer. This prayer marks all joyous occasions in the Jewish life.

Christmas is known as being the big holiday of this time of the year, but there are more holidays celebrated than we realize, with some even being celebrated with Christmas as well. Although these celebrations have their differences, all are a time for joy and holiday spirit.

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