Although some of us dread the cold, many of us anxiously await the month of December, which is possibly the most celebrated month of the winter season. While we take a break to relax with family and friends, we celebrate various holidays depending on our culture and background. However, let’s stop to consider the cultures of others as there are various customs around the world people abide by in December. In this edition of Emal Modern Lifestyle, we provide our readers with a bit of information about the most popular celebrated holidays around the world.
Christmas Eve/Christmas Day
Many of us are aware of Christmas as in modern times, it means buying presents for friends, co-workers and family and decorating our houses with beautiful lights. Christmas Eve falls on the 24th with Christmas day on the 25th. Often, children associate Christmas Eve with Santa Claus sneaking down the chimney to fill their stockings with toys. Families usually have a feast on Christmas Eve and come together after a year of hard work. Although this differs from each country, the main idea of Christmas in our modern era is to gather with family and friends, exchange gifts, memories and enjoy good food. Overall, this holiday is very important for Christians, who celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. With a rich history of both religious and cultural aspects, it is no wonder that Christmas continues to be a top holiday people all over the world!
Hanukkah is a Jewish festival which celebrates the importance of light. Often referred to as the “Festival of Lights,” it falls around the time of Winter solstice (December 26th – January 2nd) and is celebrated by lighting special candles at sundown for eight days. The word ‘Hanukkah’ means dedication and is very important to the Jewish people. It commemorates the victory, more than 2000 years for the Hebrew people, led by Judiah Maccabee who recaptured their temple in Jerusalem. In modern times, it is spent just like any other holiday and includes gathering together with family and friends and exchanging small gifts. This very unique tradition is often heard of, but we are glad to look into both the historical and religious aspects that make this celebration grand.
This celebration was founded for African Americans in 1966. Professor Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga wanted to encourage African Americans to celebrate their heritage so he started Kwanzaa in California. As one would expect, this was a huge success and the traditions today include families getting together and exchanging gifts. Also included are African cultural feasts and festivities. The word ‘Kwanzaa’ itself is an East African word which means ‘first fruits’ and refers to the celebration of the harvest of first crops in traditional African society. Kwanzaa is based on the seven principles known as ‘Nguzo Saba’ and is therefore celebrated for seven days beginning on December 26th and ending on January 1st. This festival is more culturally rich than religious and features the beautiful African traditions in a glowing light.
New Year’s Eve
Possibly one of the most widely celebrated holidays in December would is New Year’s Eve. There is no certain way one must celebrate this holiday, as it differs from various age groups and societies. In modern times, youth will get together and have parties to bring in the New Year in a grand way. On the other hand, families might get together for a feast and have a countdown to midnight to bring in the year ahead in a positive manner. Many people make resolutions or, aspects of their lifestyle they look forward to fixing in the New Year. This holiday is celebrated by people of all backgrounds and all religions. Overall, New Year’s Eve is celebrated to let go of the troubles of the previous year and look forward to a fresh new slate.
While there are various other traditions that are celebrated in December, we are glad to cover some of the most popular. The Emal team wishes all our readers a very merry Christmas, a wonderful Hanukkah, a joyous Kwanza and a Happy New Year!