Winter Holidays

A photo collage to display some of the rituals of winter holidays.

A photo collage to display some of the rituals of winter holidays.

Story by Christian (CJ) Joseph Walden, Staff Writer

After Halloween and going into the Thanksgiving season, many individuals start to celebrate their own winter holidays. However, due to the media’s popularization of Christmas, many other winter holidays do not get the same recognition. Holidays such as Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, and many more also need to be acknowledged.


A room decorated for the Christmas holiday including a Christmas tree.

While Christmas may be a commercial holiday for selling decorations and gifts, there is more to it than that. Christmas is a yearly holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25th as a religious, cultural, and or commercial celebration among billions of people worldwide. Many believers of the Christian faith gather during this time not only to celebrate their savior’s birth, but to also give back to the community and donate to those who are in need.

“While most people like getting gifts on Christmas, I think the true spirit is giving them,” said senior Daniel Freidin. “I think Christmas is all about spending time with your family. I normally go up to Atlanta to see my family and go to see an Atlanta Hawks game if they’re playing.”


A traditional Hanukkah menorah. Each candle being lit on a different day of the holiday.

Chanukah/Hanukkah (two different spellings due to the Hebrew and English languages) is a Jewish festival commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. Hanukkah 2020 happens from December 10 through December 18 and is also known as the Festival of Lights. This is due to the fact that another celebration of Hanukkah is the lighting of the menorah, as one oil lamp lasted for eight days to rededicate the temple. In modern times it has been popularized to give and receive gifts on different nights of the festival.


A traditional Kwanzaa Kinara. The candles are being fully lit by the third day of the holiday.

Kwanzaa, unlike Hanukkah and Christmas, is not a religious holiday. Kwanzaa is an annual celebration of African-American culture which is held from December 26th to January 1st. Kwanzaa contains gift giving and a feast of faith called “Karamu Ya Imani.” Having been created by Dr. Maulana Karenga and first celebrated in 1966, Karenga said his goal was to “give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society,” according to Wayback Machine.


A traditional yule log. Lit to keep bad spirits out of the house.

Yule is the Pagan and Wiccan celebration of the winter solstice that is celebrated every December. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and heralds the daylight hours growing again. Many ancient and even modern peoples worship the sun. The Celts thought the sun stood still for twelve days in the middle of winter and during this time a log was lit to conquer the darkness, banish evil spirits, and bring luck for the coming year. Yule is meant to protect practitioners from the dark times of winter and help them bring good luck for the next year.

No matter what winter holiday you celebrate, or if you don’t celebrate one at all, you are valid. Remember that there is nothing wrong with celebrating or not celebrating any holiday.

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