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Chanukah or Hanukkah
Hanukkah is the Hebrew word for dedication. Hanukkah is more of a celebration than a religious holiday. It celebrates the liberation of Jerusalem and the rededication of the Temple. When the Hebrews were preparing to rededicate the Temple, they only found enough oil for the Temple lamp for one day. According to legend, the oil lasted for eight days. The lighting of candles for eight consecutive nights has become the traditional way to celebrate Hanukkah.
Chanukah begins November 30th and lasts until December 7th.
The holiday involves worship that is centered more in the home than in the synagogue. People light candles on a menorah, or hanukkiah, adding a new candle for each night. The menorah is an eight-branched candelabra with a ninth holder for a helper candle called the shamash. Since the menorah could not be used as the only source of light, and since no candle was to light another, the shamash was used to light each nightly candle.
Traditions of Chanukah
Chanukah lasts eight days. On each day feelings of gratitude are expressed through special prayers, and the lights of the Menorah are lit each evening. It is also customary during the holiday for members of the family to play dreidel, to give presents, and to eat oily delicacies such as donuts, pancakes and "latkes."
History of Christmas
Annual Christian celebration honoring the birth of Jesus Christ
Celebrated in December since the fourth centuryMany countries exchange gifts and/or cards
Christmas is a religious holiday and a secular winter holiday
The Legend of the Poinsettia
“The legend of the poinsettia comes from Mexico. It tells of a girl named Maria and her little brother Pablo. They were very poor but always looked forward to the Christmas festival. Each year a large manger scene was set up in the village church, and the days before Christmas were filled with parades and parties. The two children loved Christmas but were always saddened because they had no money to buy presents. They especially wished that they could give something to the church for the Baby Jesus. But they had nothing.”
“One Christmas Eve, Maria and Pablo set out for church to attend the service. On their way they picked some weeds growing along the roadside and decided to take them as their gift to the Baby Jesus in the manger scene. Of course other children teased them when they arrived with their gift, but they said nothing for they knew they had given what they could. Maria and Pablo began placing the green plants around the manger and miraculously, the green top leaves turned into bright red petals, and soon the manger was surrounded by beautiful star-like flowers and so we see them today.”
The Mistletoe – the magical kissing ball
At Christmas time a young lady standing under a ball of mistletoe, brightly trimmed with evergreens, ribbons, and ornaments, cannot refuse to be kissed. Such a kiss could mean deep romance or lasting friendship and goodwill. If the girl remained unkissed, she cannot expect not to marry the following year. Whether we believe it or not, it always makes for fun and frolic at Christmas celebrations.
The Christmas Star
The Christmas star symbolizes high hopes and high ideals - hope for good fortune, hope for reaching above oneself. For all human beings, regardless of religion, stars have special meaning for all share the heavens, no matter what barriers keep them apart on earth.
The Christmas Tree
It is the symbol of the Christmas season. Other evergreens have been a part of mid-winter festivals long before Christ. They played a symbolic part because they stayed green and alive when other plants appeared dead and bare. They represented everlasting life and hope for the return of spring.
The plant has come to stand for peace and joy,people often settle arguments under a holly tree. Holly is believed to frighten off witches and protect the home from thunder and lightning.
The Christmas Star
The Christmas Tree
Kwanzaa is December 26th through January 1st. Dr. Maulana Karenga started the celebration of Kwanzaa in 1966.
Representation of Colors
Black is for the face of the African American people
Red is for the blood that the African American people shed
Green is for hope and the color of the motherland
The Kinara (candleholder) is placed atop the Mkeka (mat, usually straw). The Mishumaa Saba (seven candles) represent the Nguzo Saba (seven principles). Each candle represents a distinct principle beginning with Umoja. Candles are then lit each day alternately from left to right. Three red candles should be placed on t he left and three green candles should be placed on the right.
The Nguzo Saba (seven guiding principles)
Umoja (OO-MO-JAH) Unity stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is reflected in the African saying, "I am We," or "I am because We are."
Kujichagulia (KOO-GEE-CHA-GOO-LEE-YAH) Self-Determination requires that we define our common interests and make decisions that are in the best interest of our family and community.
Ujima (OO-GEE-MAH) Collective Work and Responsibility reminds us of our obligation to the past, present and future, and that we have a role to play in the community, society, and world.
Ujamaa (OO-JAH-MAH) Cooperative economics emphasizes our collective economic strength and encourages us to meet common needs through mutual support.
Nia (NEE-YAH) Purpose encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are beneficial to the community.
Kuumba (KOO-OOM-BAH)Creativity makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong and vibrant community.
Imani (EE-MAH-NEE) Faith focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best in ourselves, and helps us strive for a higher level of life for humankind, by affirming our self-worth and confidence in our ability to succeed and triumph in righteous struggle.
Kwanzaa is a Swahili word that
means "first fruits of the harvest."
Kwanzaa builds on the five fundamental activities of Continental African "first fruit" celebrations: ingathering; reverence; commemoration; recommitment; and celebration.