Little Known Winter Holidays

Little Known Winter Holidays

You know the season. The smell of hot cocoa and peppermint wafting through the house. Snow falling and presents all around leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Starting not long after Halloween, the quarter marker of the school year is shown by the winter holidays beginning in late November.

Hanukkah- December 8-16

Also known as the Festival of Lights, it’s an eight day celebration celebrated by people of the Jewish faith in the second century BCE.  Hanukkah means “to dedicate” in Hebrew.  The tradition is to have a candelabrum called a “menorah”. On each of the eight nights a new candle is lit. It is also traditional for children receive a gift. The menorah is a symbol of Israel and appears on the Coat of Arms. After the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the last of the oil lamps were only supposed to have enough oil for one more day. However, a miracle occurred and the oil lasted eight days in the Temple. One of the many Hanukkah games is dreidel.  While this is not the most important of the Jewish high holy days, it is a fun celebration for families and friends.

 

Kwanzaa– December 26-January 1

First celebrated in 1966, Kwanzaa was created specifically for African Americans. It was created by Maulana Karenga, a civil rights activist who wanted to give African Americans an opportunity to celebrate their heritage in America. Kwanzaa means “first fruits of the harvest” in Swahili. It’s a time for giving thanks, celebrating a shared identity, family and harvest. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa has a theme: Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, Faith. To celebrate, families decorate homes with African cloth and fresh fruit. During Kwanzaa, families celebrate their ancestors.

 

Groundhog Day- February 2

Peeking up out of the ground and looking into the world, Punxsutawney Phil is looking for a shadow and whether he finds one or not will decide if we’re in for a long winter or an upcoming spring. A shadow means more winter, no shadow means spring. This day started in Pennsylvania with German immigrants in the 18th and 19th century. Groundhog day celebrates the starting date for Spring, decided by a hog in the ground. The day has been popularized by the movie Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray.

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