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!


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.

December 25

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

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

The cross, the North Star, the creche

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 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.


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

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

Hanukkah quiz, Spin the Dreidel

Rituals & Traditions
Lighting the menorah
Blessing the candles

Star of David

Blue, White

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


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.”

Kwanza begins December 26 and ends January 1, 2017.

African beads, Kwanzaa calendar, clay jewelry,

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

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

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.

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

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

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