So Many Reasons To Celebrate!

The end of December is here and you know what that means: it’s time to party! There are so many reasons to celebrate coming up in the next week and a half. There’s Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve! Here’s a little information about each of these festivities.

December 25: Christmas

Christmas is an annual Christian holiday celebrated on December 25th that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus would come to be called the son of God. Jesus’ story is detailed in the Bible recounting many miracles he performed from healing people with diseases, feeding 5,000 people with only 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread and even raising the dead.

Santa in his sleigh filled with presents and being pulled by a reindeer
How much do you know about the history of Santa Claus?

Christmas traditions are also chock full of references to Santa Claus. Bishop Nicholas of Smyrna, who lived in the 4th century A.D. in what is known today as Turkey, was a very wealthy and generous man who especially loved children. He was known to throw gifts into the houses of poor children in order to brighten their spirits. He was later titled Saint Nicholas, and became the patron saint of children and seafarers. His story evolved into the legend of Santa Claus – the jolly man who brings gifts to children all over the world on Christmas Eve.

Interesting Facts about Christmas:

•Most of Santa’s reindeer have male-sounding names, such as Blitzer, Comet, and Cupid. However, male reindeer shed their antlers around Christmas, so the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh are likely not male, but female.

•Christmas trees have been sold in the U.S. since 1850, the trees are usually grown for about 15 years before they are sold.

•Mistletoe (Viscum album) is from the Anglo-Saxon word misteltan, which means “little dung twig” because the plant spreads though bird droppings.

December 26: Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a fairly new holiday that was first celebrated in December 1966. Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach. The name for Kwanzaa comes from a Swahili phrase meaning first fruits. The first-fruits celebrations are recorded in African history as far back as ancient Egypt and Nubia. Kwanzaa builds on the five fundamental activities of Continental African “first fruit” celebrations: in gathering; reverence; commemoration; re-commitment; and celebration.

Photo of the symbols of Kwanzaa, a cup, a menorah, and dried ears of corn.
Kwanzaa celebrations include harvest symbols.

There are seven values that are emphasized during Kwanzaa, they are: Unity, Self-determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith. Kwanzaa culminates in a big feast on the last evening of the holiday, on December 31 called Karamu; it is celebrated with festive songs, dance, toasts, prayers, and a feast of foods.

Interesting facts about Kwanzaa

•The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green as noted above and can be utilized in decorations for Kwanzaa. Also decorations should include traditional African items, i.e., African baskets, cloth patterns, art objects, harvest symbols, etc.

•Kwanzaa can be celebrated by anyone. Kwanzaa is the holiday to remember African-American cultures.

•Gifts are given mainly to children, but must always include a book and a heritage symbol.

December 31: New Year’s Eve

Drawing of clock about to strike midnight to start the new year.
Happy New Year!

The last day of the year is celebrated by many people in many different ways. Some people stay up until midnight and party at home or with friends, or a lot of people will go out to different restaurants, bars or even some cities have outdoor events. The most popular outdoor event in the US is the Times Square Ball Drop in New York City, NY. There are many New Year’s Eve traditions throughout the world.

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