Every year, millions of people celebrate the famed holiday Christmas. However, many people of different religions in other countries observe their own traditional festivities.
Hannukah, or Chanukah, is an eight-day festival that begins on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev. The holiday derives from an event more than twenty-one centuries ago, when a small band of Jews looking to reclaim the Holy Temple in Jerusalem fought against the Syrian-Greeks and miraculously won. Their one-day supply of oil burned for eight days on a menorah, or candelabrum, which was considered a miracle. In remembrance, the menorah is lighted candle by candle each night in homes for eight days.
Kwanzaa honors African heritage in African-American culture, beginning on December 26 and ending on January 1st. A special menorah called a kinara is lit, and colorful African cloths decorate homes. Traditional clothing is occasionally worn, and children usually receive small gifts.
Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated throughout Europe on December 6th. Similar to Christmas’ Santa, Saint Nicholas was known as a giver of gifts who gave presents to good children. On the night of December 5th, children put out their shoes by the fireplace, and return the next morning to find presents inside.
The Mexican holiday, Las Posadas, lasts nine days and honors the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. Guests gather at one community home, dressed as shepherds, angels, or Mary and Joseph, and have a big traditional party with a star shaped piñata and lots of food.
Omisoka, a very important holiday in Japan, is celebrated on New Year’s Eve. Families gather to eat toshikoshi-soba or toshikoshi-udon to celebrate the crossing from the old year to the new. A famous singing contest is annually broadcasted at 7:30 pm, and many visit shrines at midnight.
St. Lucia Day, in Sweden, is celebrated on December 13th in honor of St. Lucia, a young girl who was martyred after bringing food to persecuted Christians in Rome in the underground catacombs.
Other worldwide holidays include Ramadan, Three Kings Day, Eid’ul-Adha, and Eid Al-Fitr, which are celebrated during other parts of the year.