Holiday season not just for Christians

by Jadelynn Slorf, Features

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During the holiday season, there are many religions celebrating in different ways. In America, the majority of people celebrate Christmas, or the birth of Jesus. Some don’t even celebrate in any way during the holidays.

In the Jewish religion, they celebrate Hanukkah. It is an eight day celebration of the Festival of Lights. The Jews successfully drove out the Syrians from Jerusalem and took back the Second Temple.

They wanted to cleanse the Second Temple, rebuild the altar, and light the menorah, a gold candelabrum whose seven branches were supposed to keep burning every night.

There was only enough olive oil for the menorah to burn for one night, but it lasted for eight days, giving the Jews enough time to find another supply.

However, there are many interpretations of the story. The celebration consists of lighting a candle each night of the eight-day celebration. The ninth candle is used to light the others. Traditional foods are fried in oil. It is considered a minor holiday that doesn’t place restrictions on working, going to school, or other activities.

Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor and chairman of the Black Studies at California State University, created Kwanzaa in 1966. He wanted to find a way to bring African Americans together after the Watts riots in Los Angeles.

Karenga combined aspects of different harvest celebrations, such as the Ashanti and Zulu people, to form the basis of Kwanzaa. Each family celebrates Kwanzaa in their own way, but the celebration usually involves singing and dancing, African drums, storytelling, and a large traditional meal.

The celebration lasts for seven days, and on each night the family gathers and a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder), then one of the Seven Principles is discussed.

The Seven Principles are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Then an African feast is held on December 31.

During Winter Solstice, it is a time for us to gather with our families. But for Pagans and Wiccans it is often celebrated as Yule. In pre-Christian Scandinavia, the Feast of Juul or Yule lasted for 12 days, celebrating the rebirth of the sun and burning a Yule log.

The Yule celebration comes from the battle between the Oak King and the Holly King. The Oak King represented the light of the new year, and the Holly King represented darkness.

Throughout the winter season, many different religions are celebrating their own holidays, not just Christians. Each holiday is special and unique in its own way.

This year we can celebrate the many diverse cultures in America that make it the great melting pot of the world. In the end, holiday celebrations are about faith, family, food, and fun, regardless of the denomination.

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