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Lesser Known Winter Holidays

Anisha Zaman and Bryce Ford

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Hanukkah

Almost everyone has heard of Hanukkah or Chanukah, but many don’t really know what it is. It starts on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev.

Hanukkah celebrates the reconstruction of the Holy Temple. Antiochus, the king of Syria, took over the temple in his attempt to eradicate Judaism, but some Jewish rebels, the Maccabees, fought back. They were triumphant in their attempts and reclaimed the temple. When they went to relight the lamp, they had enough oil to keep it going for a day. Instead, it burned for eight days, and now, on each night of the eight day holiday, Jews light a candle on a menorah.

Many eat fried food like latke and sufganiyot. Another tradition is to play games, like the famous dreidel game. Gift giving is a shared similarity with Christmas. People also do other kinds of giving during Hanukkah like giving charity.    

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a name that’s thrown around a lot with mentions of Hanukkah and Christmas in the late months of the year, but what is it really?

Kwanzaa, a cultural holiday, is celebrated from Dec. 26 to Jan 1. In 1966, Dr. Ron Karenga established the holiday to celebrate the history and culture of African Americans. Kwanzaa is celebrated in many ways; people bring out different fruits and vegetables to feast on to honor the traditional African harvest. They also have novelties and books to emphasize African history.

Most widely recognized, people light a kinara, where families light seven candles to represent the seven principles of the holiday: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

Three King’s Day

Three King’s Day is one of the lesser known holidays relating to Christmas. It is a feast held on Jan. 6, celebrating the gifts presented to Jesus. The gifts were given to to Jesus by the Three Wise Men or Three Kings, hence the name. There are parades and festivities, and it is very popular within Latino culture. It is an exciting holiday filled with history.

Yule

Yule is a pagan holiday which focuses on the sun and is celebrated from Dec. 21 to Jan 1.

The holiday originated in Europe and is one of the oldest of the winter holidays. It has many traditions such as the Yule Log, which is cut down on Dec. 24 and lit Dec. 25. People have feasts and set up altars. Another tradition is the cleansing ritual, where you clean out old things you don’t need or use.

These are just a few of the many traditions practiced during Yule with many of the practices mirroring Christmas. The holiday, though not well known, is an interesting celebration.       

Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year. It normally falls on Dec. 20, 21, 22, or Dec. 23. It is celebrated with festivals and celebrations where people feast, dance, sing, and light bonfires.

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Lesser Known Winter Holidays