December holiday traditions

In the United States we are lucky to be a very diverse country. With so many different cultures and religions, December is full of celebrations. These are the three most widely celebrated holidays in the month of December.

Christmas is a holiday usually celebrated by Christians. The meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the day that Jesus Christ was born. People celebrate by decorating Christmas trees with colorful ornaments, giving gifts, and having big meals with family and friends. The iconic symbol of Christmas is, of course, Santa Claus. The idea of Santa comes from the monk St. Nicholas, who was, in his time, admired for being religious and kind hearted. Over the years Santa has changed, and now is said to bring gifts to good children. Another symbol is the tree. Some people say the Christmas Tree is a symbol to represent God’s everlasting life. Christmas is celebrated on the 25th. The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in the year 336.

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday lasting eight days; this year, from the night of December 25th to the 1st of January. A long time ago, the Jews wanted to rededicate the desecrated Temple, but only found one container of the sacred oil needed. The menorah was required to burn throughout the night, every night, for eight days, but there was only enough oil for one day. Amazingly, the candles stayed lit for all eight days, which was the time needed to collect a fresh supply of kosher oil for the menorah. This event became known as “The Miracle of The Oil” and is now marked with the celebration of Hanukkah. Jews celebrate by lighting one candle, on the nine candle menorah, each night, also spinning a dreidel and having family meals. In the United States some Jewish families also give gifts during Hanukkah.

Kwanzaa lasts 7 days. It starts on the 26th of December and ends on the first of January. Unlike the other holidays, Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, not religious. Created in 1966, Kwanzaa is a celebration of African American values and gratitude. The holiday includes reconnecting with family, thanking and honoring who they consider their creator, remembering their ancestors, and celebrating the all the good in their lives.  People celebrate by having big meals with family and close friends and giving gifts to show gratitude.

Some things all of these holidays have in common is that they all are celebrated with family and people who are important to you, and involve showing gratitude towards each other.

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