A look at winter holidays
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A look at winter holidays. Brea Barthel RPI’s Advising & Learning Assistance Center Revised 12/4/2013. Q: How many different winter holidays are there?. A: Lots! Winter solstice Christmas (and “Little Christmas”) Hanukah (or “Chanukah”) Kwanzaa New Year’s Day. Happy solstice!.

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A look at winter holidays

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A look at winter holidays

A look at winter holidays

Brea Barthel

RPI’s Advising & Learning Assistance Center

Revised 12/4/2013


Q how many different winter holidays are there

Q: How many different winter holidays are there?

A: Lots!

  • Winter solstice

  • Christmas (and “Little Christmas”)

  • Hanukah (or “Chanukah”)

  • Kwanzaa

  • New Year’s Day


Happy solstice

Happy solstice!

  • Usually solstice is on December 21st or 22nd

  • The shortest day of the year (in Northern hemisphere; longest in Southern hemisphere)

  • Celebrates the coming of the light with “evergreen” trees and “yule logs” (big fires)

  • Mistletoe tradition: you can kiss anyone standing under this plant

  • Celebrates a natural phenomenon: predates Christianity


Merry christmas

“Merry Christmas”

  • Usually celebrated on December 25

  • Celebrated on January 6 (“Little Christmas” or “Three Kings Day”) in some religions

  • Colors: bright red and bright green

  • Three aspects

    • Religious holiday: Christ’s birthday

    • Domestic holiday: family get-together

    • Commercial holiday: gifts & decorations


Religious christian holiday

Religious (Christian) holiday

  • Birthday of Jesus Christ, “the Son of God,” by Mary, the mother of Jesus

  • Tradition has Christ born in a “manger” (a box for feeding animals)

  • A bright star overhead led “The Three Wise Men” (or “Three Magi”) from Africa to the manger

  • Angels sang to the shepherds

  • “Nativity” scene (or “creche”) usually shows a manger, Mary, Joseph (her husband) & infant, plus angels, camels, shepherds, more

    Drawing: <http://www.rockies.net/~spirit/sermons/christmaspage.html>


Christian celebrations songs

Christian celebrations & songs

  • Celebrating “Advent” the 4 weeks before

  • Going to “midnight Mass” Christmas Eve (12/24)

  • Singing religious “Christmas carols”

    • “Silent Night”

    • “Joy to the World”

    • “Oh come, all ye faithful”

    • “The first Noel”

    • …and many more


Christmas as a domestic holiday family winter celebration

Christmas as a domestic holiday: family & winter celebration

  • Santa Claus (loosely based on St. Nicholas) flies to every house in his sled pulled by reindeer

  • “Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman” (1950s songs)

  • “Christmas trees,” house lights & decorations

  • “Christmas cards” or holiday cards

  • Candy canes & snowflakes

  • Christmas cookies!

  • Famous poem “A Visit from St. Nick” was first published in a Troy NY newspaper.


A visit from st nick 12 23 1823

“A Visit from St. Nick” (12/23/1823)

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there…As I drew in my head, and was turning around, Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound: He was dress'd all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnish'd with ashes & soot…


Christmas as a commercial holiday

Christmas as a commercial holiday

  • Total 2012 US holiday retail sales? $579.5Billion http://www.nrf.com/modules.php?name=Pages&sp_id=1140

  • Biggest shopping day: “Black Friday”

  • Black Friday spending in 2013: $57.4Billion http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-02/black-friday-weekend-spending-drop-pressures-u-s-stores.html

  • “Cyber Monday”: $1.7 Billion in 2013http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/03/us-usa-retail-shoppertrak-idUSBRE9B000020131203

  • Biggest shopping week: the last week before Christmas (33% of Christmas sales)

  • Estimated average gift sales, 2011: $740(http://www.gallup.com/poll/150737/consumers-holiday-spending-intentions-perk-november.aspx


Happy hanukah

Happy Hanukah!

  • “Judaism” predates Christianity; shared history in “Old Testament” (Bible; Christians added “New Testament”)

  • Judaism represented by 6-pointed “Star of David”

  • Hanukah, the “festival of lights,” occurs in December or late November (lunar calendar).

  • Celebrates that a small bit of lamp oil lasted 8 days, helping Jews fend off a military attack

  • Minor holiday in Jewish tradition, but heavily promoted now as an alternative to Christmas

  • Colors: blue and white


Hanukah symbols

Hanukah symbols

  • “Menorah,” a 9-candle holder

  • A main candle is lit each night, then one more for each night of the celebration (so 1 more on 1st night, 2 more on 2nd night...)

  • “Dreidl,” a special spinning top that children use in games

  • Sacks of “gelt” (chocolate “coins” wrapped in gold foil)

  • Blue & white decorations


Happy kwanzaa

Happy Kwanzaa!

  • A new holiday invented in 1966 to strengthen African-American communities

  • Now celebrated by millions worldwide

  • Runs from 12/26 to 1/1 (seven days)

  • Each day celebrates a different value

  • Colors: red, green, and black

Drawing & more info: <http://www.tike.com/celeb-kw.htm>


Seven guiding principles based on swahili words

Seven “guiding principles” based on Swahili words

  • Umoja (Unity)

  • Kujichagulia (Self-determination)

  • Ujima (Collective responsibility)

  • Ujamaa (Cooperative economics)

  • Nia (Purpose; personal goals)

  • Kuumba (Creativity)

  • Imani (Faith in ourselves)

Drawing & more info: <http://www.tike.com/celeb-kw.htm>


Happy new year

Happy New Year!

  • January 1st starts a new year

  • Celebrated on New Year’s Eve (12/31) with parties, champagne, fireworks, noisemakers

  • “First Night” arts celebrations in some cities

  • “Dropping the ball” in NYC’s Times Square (estimated 1M on site)

  • “Making resolutions” (setting goals) for the new year

  • Colors: silver & gold (“precious metals” ) to show celebration


The best winter events for us

The best winter events for us…

  • Troy’s “Victorian Stroll” this Sunday, 11 am – 5 pmLots of activities, all over downtown(even bigger than Troy Night Out!)www.victorianstroll.com

  • Semester break!

    Have a joyous break, and a great winter!


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