Holiday season brings many different celebrations

Lasirra Hines, Entertainment Editor

As the holiday season rolls around, it’s important to acknowledge the many other holidays that are celebrated amongst different cultures and religions. 

We all, of course, know the widely celebrated Christmas, a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ. Also attached to Christmas is the story about an old man named Saint Nick or Santa Claus who lives at the North Pole, creating and giving gifts to children with the help of elves. On Christmas Eve, families set out milk and cookies for him to enjoy. It is celebrated slightly different in England, as they set out mince pies and brandy for Father Christmas.

Another widely known holiday is Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday that is celebrated for a span of eight days to commemorate the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem following the Maccabean Revolt. A very well known tradition is lighting the menorah. Eight candles are lit for each of the eight days, and a ninth one, called the shamash (helper), is used to light the candles. Other traditions include eating latkes, a favorite of sophomore Aiden Starling, who celebrates the holiday.

“I really like eating latkes which are sort of a pancake made out of fried potatoes,” Starling said.

Similar to Christmas, they do receive gifts; however it is one gift each night instead of the many that most children get on Dec. 25. 

Just like Christmas, there is a story to go along with Hanukkah. It is set around 200 B.C. and talks about the Second Temple and how King Antiochus, who outlawed the practice of Judaism, had his soldiers pillage the temple and poured out the sacred oil. 

“This sacred oil was something that was hard and slow to make, and when they returned to the temple after the attack and after they had cleaned up, they only found enough oil to last for one day,” junior Gavin Starling said. “They usually burn it every day, but they needed time to make more oil, so they burned the oil anyway, and they prayed to Hashem that he would help to make it last. Low and behold, the oil lasted for eight days, long enough to make more, so that’s why we celebrate for eight days.”

The winter season brings many different holidays that have religious or secular histories, such as Kwanzaa and the Winter Solstice.

Holidays that are less talked about are Islamic holidays. While they don’t always fall in the month of December, the holidays revolve around the lunar calendar, which is a reason why the dates tend to change every year, so it is possible for them to occur this month.

One of these holidays is Ramadan, a time where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for 30 days.

“During the lunar month of Ramadan, we fast every day from sunrise to sunset,” junior Abdullah Rasheed said. “Although fasting every day for 30 days may seem tiring or unappealing, it is a time where many Muslims will gather and enjoy each other’s company. Ramadan is the time of the revelation of the Quran.”

Another holiday is one Eid, known as Eid al-Fitr, that is celebrated after Ramadan. The translation of Eid al-Fitr is “Eid of fasting” and lasts for three days, celebrating the end of Ramadan. There is a second Eid, known as Eid al-Adah, that lasts for four days. This is usually the time where people go to Mecca — known as the holiest city in Saudi Arabia — and perform pilgrimage, which is required once in a person’s life. 

Both of these are celebrated with families, and often include gifts. While they may not be celebrated in the month of December, they still find ways to celebrate the winter season.

“Often, at least our Mosque, we have gatherings and community dinners during the winter, not this year though because of COVID,” Rasheed said. “Some years Ramadan or one of the Eids will occur during this time of year, but that’s just because of the lunar calendar. It is really nice enjoying our holidays with everyone else’s though.”