Few months have as many festivities that are multicultural as December. From Christmas through Omisoka the final month of December is one of the most popular in the “world of celebrations.” Let’s look at the various holidays that December has to offer around the globe.
In the Christian religion Christmas is the historic holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It is celebrated either in this way for religious reasons or as a solely a cultural holiday, Christmas celebrations vary across the globe. While Americans are awed by Christmas trees and visit from Santa Claus, and dreams of snowy landscapes, Christmas is celebrated in the Australian summer months, and it is a popular time to camp out or visit the beach during the festive season. There are some Australians are known to decorate their “Christmas Bush” an indigenous Australian tree that is decorated with tiny leafy greens and flowers that change color during summer.
It is a fact that in England Christmas celebrations are similar to those of America. United States, however, instead of leaving cookies and milk for Santa Claus Children leave the mince pie and brandy to Father Christmas. Then in Iceland the capital city Reykjavik is transformed into an enchanting winter landscape during its Christmas market . And for children, there’s no less than thirteen Santas also named Yule Lads. Each night, one of them arrives in the 13 days leading up to Christmas, and leaves small presents in the shoes of windowsills.
Hanukkah or Chanukah is an 8-day Jewish celebration to commemorate the re-dedication ceremony of the Second Temple in Jerusalem following the Maccabean Revolt. The people who participated in the ceremony witnessed what they believed was the manifestation of a divine intervention. Even though there was enough uncontaminated oil for the menorah’s flames burning for just one day and the flames continued continue to burn for eight consecutive nights.
Also called The Festival of Lights, Hanukkah starts at the end of of the month of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar. The festivities revolve around the lighting of the menorah. Each of the eight nights, a second candle is lit in the menorah following sunset. A ninth candle known as”shamash (“helper”) is lit to help light the other candles. The custom is to recite blessings and customary Hanukkah dishes like potatoes pancakes (latkes) and jam-filled donuts (sufganiyot) are cooked in oil. Another Hanukkah traditions involve playing dreidels, and exchanging gifts.
Kwanzaa was developed through the Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 following the Watts protests during the Watts riots in Los Angeles. He created US an organization for culture and began to study African “first the fruit” (harvest) festivals. Then, he merged elements of various harvest celebrations to create Kwanzaa’s foundation.
The term Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya Kwanza” meaning “first fruit” according to Swahili. Every family is able to celebrate Kwanzaa in their own manner and often includes dancing and songs, African drums, storytelling poems, storytelling and a huge traditional dinner. Each night families come together and children light an individual candle on the Kinara which is then seven principles, or values of African culture and values, is debated. A traditional African celebration, known as Karamu, is held on the 31st of December. Karamu celebration, takes place on the 31st of December.
Boxing Day takes place on the 26th of December. It is only celebrated in a handful of nations, the holiday began within the United Kingdom during the Middle Ages. It was the day on which the alms box, which was a collection containers for those in need,, which were often kept in churches were opened and their contents were distributed, which is a tradition which is still practiced in certain regions. Also, on this day servicemen were typically granted the day off to spend Christmas with their families.
Boxing Day has now become an official holiday across The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as other nations. In England soccer games and horse races typically are held in the days of Boxing Day. The Irish are known to refer to Boxing Day in the form of St. Stephen’s Day, and have their own custom of hunting the wren in which children attach an imitation wren to an upright pole and then parade through the town. The Bahamas are known to celebrate Boxing Day with a street parade and a festival known as Junkanoo.
Omisoka New Year’s Eve, also known as Omisoka is considered to be the second most significant day of the year in Japanese tradition since it marks the end of the old year , and the day leading up to New Year’s Day, the most significant holiday of the calendar. Families get together on Omisoka to celebrate one last time during the previous year to enjoy an oblong bowl of toshikoshi soup or toshikoshi-udon. This is a tradition that is based on eating long noodles in order to pass between the years.
The night is when many people visit temples or shrines to honor Hatsumode. Shinto shrines make amazake that they distribute to the crowds, and many Buddhist temples have massive cast bells which are struck one time in each of the 108 spiritual desires that are believed to be the cause of human suffering.