Holidays and Traditions of December

Mother and child making cookies

 

There are too many traditions to fully cover, especially for Christmas – but here’s a taste!

Christmas

The traditional Christmas narrative in the New Testament says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem according to prophecies of the messiah, and in a stable. Angels proclaimed the news to shepherds who then disseminated the message furthermore.

Date
December 25

Gifts
Calendar, rocking horse, teddy bear, jewelry, nesting dolls, socks, cheese and fruit baskets, Pez, charitable gifts

Games
Trivial Pursuit, Pinnacle, Bridge, Uno, Telegram, Monopoly, Charades, Twenty Questions

Bird and Christmas stockingRituals & Traditions
Candlelight services on Christmas Eve with carols and the nativity story
Sending Christmas cards
Leaving cookies and milk out for Santa
Christmas carols
Letters to Santa
Advent calendar
Watching movies like A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Helping at a food shelter

Symbols
The cross, the North Star, the creche

Decor
Red & green, Christmas tree with lights and ornaments, stockings, candy canes, popcorn and cranberry garland, wreathe

Food & Drink
Fruits and nuts, cookies, fruitcakes, mulled wine, roast beef or prime rib, ham, trifle, Yorkshire pudding, duck or turkey, cheese ball, chestnuts, stollen

Hanukkah

Hanukkah is the Jewish “Festival of Lights,” which celebrates the victory of the Maccabees or Israelites over the Greek-Syrian ruler, Antiochus, some 2200 years ago. Hanukkah, the word for “dedication,” stands for the Jewish rededication of the temple in Jerusalem.

dreidels

Dates
This year Hanukkah begins December 25 and ends January 1, 2017.

Gifts
Dreidel, gelt, books, pajamas, charitable gift, menorah candles, jewelry

Games
Hanukkah quiz, Spin the Dreidel

Rituals & Traditions
Lighting the menorah
Blessing the candles

Symbols
Star of David

Decor
Blue, White

Food & Drink
Potato Pancakes, sufganiyot (donuts), rugelach (pastry)

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a new holiday created in 1966 to celebrate African-American heritage and to strive to honor seven principles. Many celebrate the holiday in addition to celebrating Christmas. The name “Kwanzaa” is derived from a Swahili phrase meaning “first fruits of the harvest.”

Dates
Kwanza begins December 26 and ends January 1, 2017.

KwanzaaGifts
African beads, Kwanzaa calendar, clay jewelry,

Games
Corncob painting, making a Unity cup, Mbube, hand-made gifts, dolls, books, other gifts symbolic of heritage

Rituals & Traditions
Drumming
Reflections on culture and history
Candle lighting
Artistic performances

Symbols
A mat on which a kinara containing seven candles is placed in addition to corn, a unity cup to give thanks to ancestors and other gifts; the black, red and green flag; African books and artwork and the Nguzo Saba poster.

Decor
Black, red & green, Kente cloth, African artwork, kaftans, fresh fruit

Food & Drink
Benne cakes, fruits and vegetables, Kwanzaa-colored foods

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