The History of the Holidays

The holiday season has finally arrived! Year after year, millions of people prepare for what might be seen as the happiest time of the year. Although there are many holidays throughout the year, there is something special about this time of year that excites people all around the world. With so much excitement it’s pretty hard not to get into the holiday spirit, but what exactly are these holidays everyone is so excited for?

Christmas

When you think of Christmas, your first thought is probably Santa Claus. Although he has become the face of this grand holiday, Santa was not a part of the original Christmas. The idea of Christmas is a Christian holiday that annually celebrates the birth of a major religious figure known as Jesus Christ who was the son of God and died for the people’s sins.

During this time of joy, people celebrate by decorating their homes with an assortment of colored lights, shining ribboned wreaths, and most importantly a great big Christmas tree. Friends and family come together exchanging gifts, treats, and lots of love. With the help of catchy songs and iconic Christmas movies, it’s easy to see why Christmas is everybody’s favorite holiday.

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday celebrated by the people of African heritage. Since it is cultural rather than religious, it is able to be practiced by any person of African culture, regardless of their religious beliefs. It is celebrated over a span of seven days to embrace the Nguzo Saba, which is a set of seven principles valued by the African culture. The seven principles are Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). 

Starting on Dec. 26 and ending Jan. 1, Kwanzaa can be celebrated in a number of ways including singing, dancing, telling stories, and eating a large meal with friends and family. The celebration also includes the placing of seven meaningful symbols around the house. The biggest reason behind this holiday is to take time and remember that the history of the African-Americans did not begin with slavery but instead goes back to before the slave trade even began. These seven days are important to those of African culture to show pride in their race, embrace and overcome struggles they may face, and look towards the good the future will hold.

Hanukkah

Hanukkah, originally known as Chanukah, is a religious holiday celebrated by the Jewish people. The story of Hanukkah begins in the second century B.C. in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. At the time, Jerusalem, known as the Holy Land to the Jewish people, was ruled by a group of Syrian-Greeks known as the Seleucids. During these times the Seleucids attempted to convert the Jewish people into believing Greek culture, but eventually the Jewish people revolted and drove the Seleucids away. After reclaiming the Holy Temple, the Jewish people went to light the temple’s menorah. The issue was that there was only enough oil to light the candles for one day, but the candles are meant to be lit every day. However, somehow with only a one-day supply of oil, the candles burned for eight days. This phenomenon was seen as none other than a miracle, thus creating the holiday of Hanukkah 

Beginning on Dec. 22 and lasting until Dec. 30, the celebration of Hanukkah revolves around the nine-branched menorah. As each day passes, another candle is lit until all eight candles are lit. The ninth candle is known as the shamash which is used to kindle the other eight lights. During the eight days, the Jewish people recite special blessings and sing traditional songs to commemorate the miracle that took place. Since said miracle involved oil, many traditional foods during Hanukkah are fried in oil. During this holiday, many people take part in exchanging gifts and playing with dreidels which is a four-sided spinning top that helps symbolize the miracle that took place. 

The holiday season is a very special time for all. A time for people to come together with close friends and family and appreciate the people around them. For those who may not know much about holidays outside of the one they celebrate, hopefully this article has taught you something new. This time of year is a time for joy, so to all who are reading this make sure to kick back, relax, and have a happy holidays!

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