Holiday traditions around the world

Sophia Serice and CC dePascale

During this time of year, the air is chilly and families around the globe are preparing for a winter celebration. Whether it be for Christmas, Chanukah, also spelled Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, this time of the year holds a special place in the hearts of many.


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Chanukah, a traditional Jewish holiday, is celebrated around the world during the Hebrew month of Kislev. It can fall anywhere between the end of fall and the winter season. Chanukah is celebrated for eight days and eight nights, and also goes by the name of the Festival of Lights. This holiday celebrates the victory of the Judaen army over the tyrannical Greek rule in 200 B.C.E. Standard celebrations include eating traditional Jewish foods, like sufganiyot and latkes, which are jelly donuts and potato pancakes. As well as giving small gifts, playing games like dreidel-which involves a spinning top, and spending time with friends and family. Although this holiday is celebrated differently all over the world, the spirit of Chanukah remains the same throughout them all.


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Kwanzaa, celebrated from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, was started in 1966 by activist Maulana Karenga to help African-Americans connect with their African ancestry and cultural traditions in a time of social and racial turmoil. During the 1960’s there were many protests and revolts around race and social class divisions for African-Americans. Kwanzaa was used as a way for African-Americans to come together as a community. Each day of Kwanzaa is connected to one of the holiday’s core principles: umoja, or unity, kujichagulia, or self- determination, ujima, or collective responsibility, ujamaa, or cooperative economics, nia, or purpose, kuumba, or creativity, and imani, or faith. Each day, families come together to light one of the candles on the Kinara, a candle holder, and discuss one of the core ideas.


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Christmas is a Christian holiday recognized on Dec. 25 each year to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas takes inspiration from Norse holidays, such as Yule, and Roman festivals like Saturnalia. However, for some the Christmas holiday has been a time to highlight the importance of family and charitability. Christmas preparation, specifically in the U.S, has expanded to being the entirety of December and even directly after Thanksgiving for some. Traditions such as putting up a Christmas tree, baking cookies, hanging stockings and watching Christmas movies are common in many households, some families also see Christmas Eve as a time to go to candlelight services and have a feast. On Christmas morning, children and adults alike open the presents that were left for them under the Christmas tree.

People around the world celebrate many different holidays and traditions that make the world what it is today. The blending of culture and ideas has influenced us in many ways. Whether you celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or nothing at all the world would be very different without the celebrations that are shared.