December: month of multi-cultural Celebration!
December is a month rich in cultural holidays, with many opportunities to learn and share our world’s diversity, present right here in the United States. Here are a few highlights from our global cultures:
Hanukkah For eight days each November or December, Jewish people light a special candleholder called a menorah, to remember an ancient miracle in which one day’s worth of oil burned for eight days in their temple. On Hanukkah, many Jewish people also eat special potato pancakes called latkes, sing songs, and spin a top called a dreidel to win chocolate coins, nuts, or raisins. This year, Hanukkah is celebrated December 6 – 14.
St. Lucia Day is on December 13, in Advent. Her feast once coincided with the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year before calendar reforms, so her feast day has become a festival of light. St. Lucy’s Day is celebrated most commonly in Scandinavia, with their long dark winters, where it is a major feast day, and in Italy, with each emphasizing a different aspect of the story. Many girls in Sweden dress up as “Lucia brides” in long white gowns with red sashes, and a wreath of burning candles on their heads. They wake up their families by singing songs and bringing them coffee and twisted saffron buns called “Lucia cats.”
Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed most commonly on December 25th as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. People celebrate this Christian holiday by going to church, giving gifts, and sharing the day with their families. In some parts of Europe, “star singers” go caroling — singing special Christmas songs — as they walk behind a huge star on a pole.
Prophet Muhammed’d Birthday Eid Milad ul-Nabi (Mawlid, Milad-un-Nabi) celebrates the Prophet Muhammad’s life. It falls on the 12th or 17th day of the Islamic month of Rabi’ al-awwal. Some Muslims in the United States mark this occasion by fasting or holding communal meals, special prayers or outdoor celebrations.
Kwanzaa which means “First Fruits,” is based on ancient African harvest festivals and celebrates ideals such as family life and unity. During this spiritual holiday, celebrated from December 26 to January 1, millions of African Americans dress in special clothes, decorate their homes with fruits and vegetables, and light a candleholder called a kinara.