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December Holiday Celebrations!


For kids and adults, the most popular December holiday in the U.S. has to be Christmas! But did you know that there are other religious and secular holidays celebrated this time of year as well?

Teaching your children about other traditions can broaden their understanding about additional cultures and beliefs during the most celebrated month of the year!

While the day may change, the date never does for Christmas. It always falls on December 25th. Christmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. No one knows the exact date of Christ's birth but in the 4th Century, Pope Julius I, chose December 25th as the day of celebration. For Christians, Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. It's a holiday that's celebrated in a variety of ways not inly in the United States but around the planet. While many lament the commercialism of the Christmas holiday, its’ true meaning continues to inspire people, young and old.

Hanukkah, which is the Hebrew word for dedication, honors the victory of the Jews over the Greek Syrians in 165 BC. The Greek Syrians denied them the right to freely practice Judaism and had demanded that the Jews instead pray to Greek gods. After their victory, the Maccabees, sons of the family that led the revolt, entered the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and dedicated it to the service of their God. When the Maccabees entered the temple, they found only enough lamp oil to last one night, but the oil somehow managed to burn for the whole eight days it took to go in search for more oil. Therefore, Hanukkah is observed over eight days.

Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26th to January 1st. Although some people believe this holiday is a substitute for Christmas, it is not a religious holiday. It is celebrated every year on December 26th. Kwanzaa, which means "first fruit of the harvest" in Swahili, is a time to focus on the traditional African values of family. The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green. Black represents the color of the people, Green represents the fertile land of Africa and Red represents blood shed in the struggle for freedom. Kwanzaa was started in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga to celebrate and honor African culture and to also inspire African-Americans.

The Winter Solstice is the beginning of winter. It is also the day with the shortest amount of daylight. Because of the earth's tilt, the Northern Hemisphere is as far away from the sun as it can be. Winter Solstice has been celebrated in cultures around the world over for thousands of years.

Did you know there is a holiday called Boxing Day? It’s celebrated on December 26th and it’s not about stepping into the ring and duking it out. The first Boxing Day is believed to have started in the Middle Ages, This is just a guess because the exact date isn't known. How Boxing Day started is a question as well. Some say it started with the giving of Christmas boxes, while others think it was named after the tradition of opening charity boxes placed in churches during the Christmas season. Boxing Day is typically celebrated in Canada and some European countries.

New Year’s Eve is the oldest known of all celebrated holidays. It was first observed in Ancient Babylon about 4,000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, Babylonians celebrated the beginning of a new year on what is now March 23rd, although they had no written calendar. It wasn't until 153 BC that the Roman senate declared January 1st to be the beginning of the New Year.

No matter which holiday you celebrate, we hope it’s a wonderful time filled with love, family and friends!

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