By: Ashley Tulio, Communication Specialist
Many holidays are celebrated throughout the winter season worldwide! Below is a list of a few holidays out of many. Explore the meanings of the holidays by reading on.
Hanukkah: Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish celebration that commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple located in Jerusalem. This is where, according to legend, Jews had risen against their oppressors in a revolt. The word Hanukkah comes from the Hebrew word for “dedication”, “consecration,” or “inauguration”. Hanukkah is often called the Festival of Lights, as the holiday is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah.
Dong Zhi: The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, and many different cultures worldwide have their festivals dedicated to this day. The “arrival of winter,” Dong Zhi is a significant Chinese festival. It is a family get-together event where all family members reflect on their year together. The traditional Chinese celestial calendar occurs between December 21 and 23. A feast is prepared to feed the entire family with traditional foods!
Kwanzaa: Kwanzaa is an annual holiday that celebrates an African harvest and focuses on family values, life and unity. The celebrations involve: dressing in traditional clothes, making decorations out of fruits and vegetables, and lighting a candle holder which holds seven candles called a kinara.
The name Kwanzaa comes from the word Kwanzaa, which means “first,” originating from a Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza. An extra “a” is added at the end to make the holiday name seven letters in length to correspond with the 7 Principles of Kwanzaa:
- Umoja (Unity)
- Kujichagulia (Self-determination)
- Ujima (Collective responsibility)
- Ujamaa (Cooperative economics)
- Nia (Purpose)
- Kuumba (Creativity)
- Imani (Faith)
On each day of Kwanzaa, families sit down together, light one of the candles from their kinara, and talk about the day’s principle and what it means for each person and the family.
Ōmisoka: Omisoka is the last day of the year in Japan or New Year’s Eve. The Japanese call the last day of the month Misoka. Adding the letter “大” (Oo) changed the meaning from the last day of the month to the last day of the last month. Before the New Year, families eat the last meal of the year, which is toshikoshi-soba (noodles). This comes from a long tradition and the belief that eating long noodles will give you a long life and help you successfully cross into the New Year!
Christmas: Christmas is a holiday that celebrates the birth of baby Jesus in Bethlehem to Joseph and the Virgin Mary. Christmas joins the two words “Christ” and “mass,” which means the holy mass of Christ. Holy mass can be a celebration or a festival! This is why there is usually a feast with food and family unity during Christmas.
MCIS wishes everyone a wonderful holiday season! We hope you and your families stay safe during these times, and may your holiday season be filled with warmth and joy!