Written by Amelia Huggins
It seems like the weather has finally figured out what time of year it is: November. Took it long enough. But you know what freezing cold weather means? It’s almost finals time. Now, of course there is an excess of studying and work that come with these tests, but they also serve the purpose of marking the season (that season being: December holidays). There’s Christmas, Yule, New Years Eve, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, and more! No matter what you celebrate, I hope it comes with a whole month of more rest and relaxation.
Each holiday comes with its own form of celebration, such as Yule: which is celebrated by spiritual reflections and gift exchanges. Historically, Yule dates back to the people of Germany and Scandinavia. Yule, which falls on the Winter Solstice, is the shortest day and longest night of the year, with people focusing on the “rebirth” of themselves and excitement for the new year.
Another holiday one may celebrate is Kwanzaa. This holiday was started in 1996 as a way for African Americans to honor their heritage. Families gather around the Kinara, light seven candles, and talk about the seven principles of Kwanzaa, one for each candle. More specifically, they discuss how these principles can help guide their lives. The seven principles are: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and
And of course, there’s also Hanukkah. The biggest tradition of this holiday is lighting the nine candles on the Menorah, “celebrating the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem that happened in the second century (BC)”. Antiochus Epiphanes, a Greek Emperor, dedicated a temple in Jerusalem to a Greek god. Eventually, the Jewish people were able to take back their land and the 9 candles represent a miracle that happened when they were dedicating the temple. There was only enough oil in the lamp for one day, however, it ended up lasting a full eight days, which gave them enough time to gather more oil. This is why there are eight candles on a menorah, with the ninth candle being used to light the rest.
Whatever holiday you celebrate, whether it’s any of these or not, know that there is a long history of tradition behind all the parties and gifts.