December Includes More Celebrations Than Just Christmas

December+is+filled+with+many+holidays%2C+not+just+Christmas.++Students+at+SCHS+celebrate+many+of+them.++
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December Includes More Celebrations Than Just Christmas

December is filled with many holidays, not just Christmas.  Students at SCHS celebrate many of them.

December is filled with many holidays, not just Christmas. Students at SCHS celebrate many of them.

Image found at https://hallr.com/december-dilemma-acknowledging-religious-holidays-classroom/

December is filled with many holidays, not just Christmas. Students at SCHS celebrate many of them.

Image found at https://hallr.com/december-dilemma-acknowledging-religious-holidays-classroom/

Image found at https://hallr.com/december-dilemma-acknowledging-religious-holidays-classroom/

December is filled with many holidays, not just Christmas. Students at SCHS celebrate many of them.

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Every year when December rolls around, all people seem to talk about is Christmas. Christmas is the day that people of the Christian religion celebrate Jesus’ birthday. However, Christmas has become a less religious has also become a widespread secular holiday of giving.  While it is a day that many people anticipate, they also seem to forget that Christmas is not the only holiday in December, nor is it the most important for some people. Holidays such as Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Omisoka, and many more are lost in the shadow of their big brother, Christmas but they should not be dismissed.

Saint Nicholas Day is a Christian holiday and is celebrated on the 6th of December in western countries, the 19th in eastern countries, and the 5th in the Netherlands. This holiday is Christian based, and is more commonly found in non-English speaking countries. Traditions for this holiday include children receiving gifts under their pillows, children receiving money in their shoes, and children leaving hay and a carrot for Saint Nicholas’s horse.

Mexican Catholics celebrate the Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe and is celebrated on the 12th each year. This holiday celebrates the day that Juan Diego met the Virgin Mary on Tepeyac Hill. Diego convinced his bishop that the Virgin Mary spoke to him, and that she wanted a temple to be built in her name. After much convincing, the bishop agreed to build the temple. Now each year, Mexican Catholics celebrate with a mass at church and then a feast. “The feast is a really connecting event, getting you closer to the people that go to pray with you,” said Luis Vazquez, senior, that celebrates this day with his family.

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday and is celebrated this year from the 2nd to the 10th. Hanukkah is celebrated to commemorate the Maccabean Jews regaining control of Jerusalem from the Syrians. Hanukkah lasts for 8 days and 8 nights, symbolizing the 8 days the oil burned, and is celebrated by lighting one of the candles of a Hanukkah menorah each night. On the menorah there are 9 candles, one of them, the shamash, is used to light the candles. Other Hanukkah celebrations include playing dreidel, eating foods such as latkes and sufganiyot, and giving gifts. Although teacher Lucas Gravitt is not a practicing Jew, he has been raised in a mix of Christian and Jewish traditions, and he continues to celebrate Hanukkah in remembrance of his grandmother.  “To me Hanukkah is more of a remembrance time for my family who has passed. I do not light a menorah, but rather yahrzeit lamps (electric lights with the Star of David inside) to remember my grandmother, her sister and the entire Yuro family,” said Gravitt.

In 1966, black power activist Maulana Karenga created a holiday for African-Americans to celebrate their African heritage, unity, and culture called Kwanzaa. It is celebrated from the 26th to January 1st. Kwanzaa is celebrated by lighting seven candles on a kinara. Each candle represents a principle of Africa: Unity, self-determination, responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. People will celebrate by decorating a room with various African decorations, and have a feast.

People of Japan celebrate the new year on Omisoka or December 31st.  Omisoka is celebrated by relaxing and completing other various traditions. People might clean their houses, repay debts, drive out evil spirits, or bathe to start the new year fresh. An hour before midnight, people will eat toshikoshi soba/udon in order to represent passing over from one year to the next. At midnight, people will go to their temple for hatsumode, which is their first temple visit of the year. “Each year we eat the traditional Omisoka noodles, to pass on the year,” explained Yo Kumagi, Japanese foreign exchange student.

Regardless of one’s faith or cultural background, individuals will find December filled with many celebrations.  It is just important to remember that the United States is diverse, and not everyone will be celebrating Christmas in the traditional sense.