The word “holiday” actually comes from the term “holy day,” because many holidays began as religious celebrations. Today, the word “holiday” means “a day(s) free from work or play.” That’s why we even call our summer school break the “summer holiday.”
The winter holiday season means a lot of different things to different people. In fact, we counted more than 40 holidays during November and December. These include cultural celebrations, like Kwanzaa; government holidays, like Veterans Day; religious observances, like Christmas; and more.
Many holidays focus on positive, uplifting activities and feelings. Some are more somber, rooted in reflection or perhaps honoring specific persons or groups of people.
You may not know everything about the holidays observed around the world in November and December. Many of these holidays are significant to countries, cultures, and people who may be different than you. We’ve decided to explain more about three of these holidays (on the right side of this article). You might be surprised by the origins of some of them, and even if you don’t observe them, you’ll learn how to respect others who celebrate in different ways.
It is a week-long celebration that honors African heritage in the African-American culture. It starts on December 26 and finishes on January 1 with a big feast and gift exchange. Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga. The name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” meaning “first fruits of the harvest.” Kwanzaa was first celebrated in the mid-1960s.
It began in the Christian faith as a celebration of the birth of Jesus. It is celebrated around the world by Christians as well as others who enjoy the traditions of giving presents, having time with family, singing Christmas carols, and decorating an evergreen tree. There are many foods that people enjoy around Christmastime. Even Rudolph has a favorite food, which you can find on Page 18.
also spelled Chanukah
It means “to dedicate” in the Hebrew language. This holiday is also called the Festival of Lights, and it lasts eight days. It is a celebration of the rededication of Jerusalem’s temple after it was ruined by a ruler who didn’t believe in religion. There are specific foods that Jews eat during Hanukkah. A recipe for one of them, Potato Latkes, is found on Page17. See if you can help your family make Potato Latkes this holiday season!