By Devonna Dang
A multitude of holidays are celebrated in winter in different regions. Each holiday has their own purpose, traditions and festivities.
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is celebrated mainly by Jews. For eight days each November or December, they light a special candle holder called a Menorah. They do it to remember an ancient miracle when one day’s worth of oil burned for eight days in the Holy Temple. During this holiday, many eat latkes or special potato pancakes, sing songs and spin the dreidel, a top to win chocolate coins, nuts or raisins.
THREE KINGS DAY
At the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas comes the Epiphany or Three Kings Day on Jan. 6. This holiday is celebrated in Spain, Latin America and across the US by Latinos as the day the Three Kings first saw baby Jesus and brought him gifts. On this day in Spain, many children receive their presents. In Puerto Rico, before children go to sleep on Jan. 5, parents leave a box with hay under their beds so the kings will leave good presents. In France, a delicious King cake is baked where a coin, jewel or little toy will be hid inside.
Kwanzaa, which means “First Fruits,” is based on ancient African harvest festivals, celebrating ideals such as family life and unity. It is a celebration held in the US and in other nations of African diaspora in the Americas. It is observed from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. Millions of African Americans dress in special clothes, decorate their homes with fruits and vegetables, and light a candle holder called a kinara.
LUNAR NEW YEAR
This holiday falls on different dates each year between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20, celebrated in many Asian countries such as China, Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Singapore. While all celebrate it in their own way, all of their celebrations are linked by a commonality: family reunions and a lot of red—a symbol of good luck in Asian cultures.
- LUCIA DAY
This holiday is celebrated in Sweden, Norway and Swedish-speaking areas around Christmas time in Sweden on Dec. 13. The celebration originated from stories told by Monks who were the first to bring Christianity to Sweden. As the story goes, St. Lucia was a young Christian girl who was killed for her faith. Many girls dress up as “Lucia brides” in long white gowns with red sashes and a wreath of burning candles on their heads. They wake up their families by singing songs and bringing them coffee and twisted saffron buns called “Lucia Cats.”