December Holidays Around the World
The Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Team at Code3 would like to wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season! We hope you have the opportunity to spend this time with the ones you love most. December is a time for togetherness, celebration, and gift-giving. And, in this blog post, we’re highlighting December Holidays around the world and those most commonly celebrated by employees at Code3.
Hanukkah means ‘dedication’ in Hebrew. It is celebrated for 8 days and 8 nights, commemorating the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greeks in 164 BC, and the rededication of the Jewish Temple to God. When one small vial of oil, enough to keep the Temple’s candelabra burning for 1 day, kept it burning for 8 days. Also known as the Jewish Festival of Lights, the celebration begins on the 25th day of Kislev, the ninth month of the Hebrew calendar. Hanukkah holiday traditions include the lighting of the menorah, eating fried foods, gift-giving, and playing Dreidel.
Christmas celebrated on December 25th, is a religious, cultural, and commercial holiday that traditionally celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Though, Christmas traditions vary around the world and are both religious and secular. In many countries, Christmas is traditionally celebrated with different customs, folklore, and religious practices. In the United States we generally celebrate by decorating Christmas trees, giving gifts, attending mass, putting up decorations, singing Christmas carols, and of course, with Santa Claus.
Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26th through January 1st, and is derived from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza”, meaning “first fruits”. This refers to the “first fruits” or harvest festivals that are found throughout Africa. Kwanzaa was introduced to the United States by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 to reaffirm and restore African Heritage and Culture, to introduce Nguzo Saba, to serve as a communal and non-heroic holiday, and as an act of cultural self-determination. Seven candles that represent the Seven Principles, or Nguzo Saba, that utilize Kiswahili words: unity (Umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (Imani). There are seven symbols of Kwanzaa: a mat (Mkeka) on which the other symbols are placed, Kinara (candle holder for 7 candlesticks), Mishumaa Saba (7 candles), Mazao (crops), Mahinda (corn), a Kikombe cha Umoja (unity cup) and Sawadi (gifts). Kwanzaa celebrations differ for each family but can include African drums, storytelling, a candle-lighting ritual, and finally, a feast called Karamu is held on December 31st.
Additional Resources to Learn About December Holidays
Hanukkah | All About the Holidays - PBS LearningMedia
How an Ancient Revolt Sparked the Festival of Lights - “Celebrated over eight days and nights, Hanukkah commemorates a people’s uprising and holy miracle from over 2,000 years ago.” - National Geographic
The History of Christmas - History.com
How 25 Christmas Traditions Got Their Start - “Learn why we decorate trees, swap cookies, hide pickles and elves, among other traditions.” - History.com
From St. Nicholas to Santa Claus: The surprising origins of Kris Kringle - National Geographic
The History of Kwanzaa - History.com
Kwanzaa: First Fruits - National Museum of African American History & Culture | Smithsonian
Witness Black History: The First Kwanzaa - BBC Worldwide/Apple Podcasts
Live and Streamed events near you!
Kwanzaa with The Wright - The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
We hope you enjoyed learning more about December Holidays around the world. All of us at Code3 have found the above resources valuable and look forward to continuing the conversation in the new year.
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