Multicultural winter holidays celebrated at Leesville

Christmas, is the main and leading winter holiday celebrated in America. Besides Christmas, there is also Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

During the winter season, multiple holidays are celebrated by different and various people. In the United States, every 9 out of 10 citizens celebrate Christmas. Worldwide, around two billion people celebrate Christmas.

Christmas is meant to represent the birth of Jesus and is a time for families to gather together and celebrate moral values such as giving, caring, and loving one another. However, with this winter holiday comes several Christmas traditions. Santa Claus is among several Christmas traditions.

Santa Claus is most commonly known as a husky guy usually dressed in a red and white suit with a black belt. climbs down the chimney to place presents under Christmas trees for children. Santa is supposed to spread joy, love and hope throughout the homes of many. He is made out to be a joy old man who is willing to give gifts to children who are on the nice list. Many people leave chocolate chip cookies with milk for Santa as a gesture of thanks or appreciation.

Kids make a wish list for what they want Santa to give them for Christmas, and for the most part, their wish is granted. Santa makes a naughty or nice list to see which kids were good this year, or bad. Ultimately the good kids will receive their gifts, and the bad kids receive coal.

Although the purpose of Christmas is to celebrate Jesus’s birthday, many people focus on the gift-giving aspect of Christmas. While it is important to give to one another, it’s also important to celebrate the real meaning behind the holiday: to give thanks and spend time with loved ones. “I mean I definitely like the church service, and we talk about things like God and Jesus. But then there’s my family watching Christmas movies with Santa Claus and all that good stuff,” said Jake Jeffers, senior.

The Christmas traditions ultimately start around the first of the month, with people buying gifts for one another. Grab bags, and Secret Santa are popular games played during the Christmas holidays. Although Grab Bags and Secret Santa are similar, Secret Santa allows a person to chose someone at random and get them an exciting mystery gift without anyone knowing. Most of the time it’s supposed to be a surprise– but some people give you hints as to what to buy. A Grab Bag is when everyone wraps up an anonymous gift and puts it into a large bag. Each person chooses a gift and unwraps it, claiming their present. Secret Santa is more common because it always leaves you guessing who is your Secret Santa, whereas Grab Bags are usually for bigger groups of people.

Typically, families gather together on December 25 to open presents and have a feast. Some families even start to get together on Christmas Eve which is December 24 to wrap presents or go to church. “Well Christmas Eve is a lot of cooking and stuff and getting ready, Christmas Eve we go to church, and have Christmas service and then we go back and have a big party with a lot of family and friends. Christmas Day is opening gifts with my small family then opening gifts with the rest of my family and then we have a big family dinner where we sing a lot of songs and hymns and stuff that our family loves to do,” said Regan Norvell, junior.

Though Christmas is a widely celebrated holiday, Hanukkah is also commonly celebrated. Hanukkah is Jewish holiday that lasts for eight days. It usually consists of a nightly Menorah lighting, special prayers, and fried foods. It starts on the 25 day of the month of Kislev, which is on the 26th day of December,  on the Jewish calendar and ends in January.

“It’s eight nights, and basically like the whole concept of it there were people and they had to burn a candle and the candle was only suppose to last for one night but it lasted for eight. So that’s why there’s eight nights of Hanukkah. It’s kinda of a celebration of the light lasting that long. The food that we eat is called Lakas and it’s like a potato pancake. You shape it into a pancake and you put it on a grill and it’s like really good you eat it with ketchup,” said Jordan Riley, senior.

The centerpiece of Hanukkah is the Menorah, a Candelabra that holds nine candles. Eight of the nine candles represent the days that the Temple of Lantern blazed. However the ninth, the Shamash, is a helper candle. The shamash is used to light the other candles.

Hanukkah commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where according to legend, Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt.

Many people who celebrate the holiday enjoy fact that it is different from Christmas. “Personally it means I’m different because It’s kinda cool to be able to celebrate it and explain to people what it is so it’s important to me to accept the idea of being,” said Jordan Riley, senior.

Hanukkah is an important traditional holiday to many Jewish families. It allows one’s entire family to get together to celebrate their religion along with the lighting of one individual candle each night.

Another commonly celebrated winter holiday is Kwanzaa. It can be approximated that about 18 million African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa. It’s a non-religious holiday that isn’t meant to replace Christmas, but consists of a festival that is known for its celebration of cultural heritage and values of tradition. Kwanzaa comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya Kwanza,” which means the “first fruits of harvest. ”

Kwanzaa, is an African holiday that begins on December 26 and goes through to January 1, each day representing a principle. All seven principles have a different name. The first principle is Umoja which means unity. It stands for building a durable community that holds together. The second principle is Kujichagulia, meaning self-determination in English. It means that you are to speak for yourself and to make choices that benefit your community.

Ujima, the third principle, means collective work and responsibility. Its stands for one’s responsibility to help others with one’s community. The fourth principle is Ujaama, which mean cooperative economics. It’s underlying meaning is that one is to support businesses that care about the community. Nia, the fifth principle, ultimately means a sense of purpose. An action that goes along with that is to set goes that benefit the community.

The last two principles are Kuumba and Imani. Kuumba means creativity and is to represent making the community better and more beautiful. The last principle, Imani, means faith. The action is to believe that a better world can be created for communities now and in the future.

Overall, Kwanzaa’s principles are mainly a family and community environment that gives a guide to how others should behave in them.
Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa are different holidays celebrated by different people. Two of them have very different religions while another doesn’t have one at all. Each holiday has a different aspect to them that appeals to various cultures, however, these three holidays are what brings people of different cultures together for a time of celebration, love, and enjoyment.


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