This year in our December Holidays blog we are going to feature five holiday traditions from our diverse US cultures: Christmas, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Hanukkah and Solstice!
We’re all familiar with the Christmas festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25th. For many there is also the season of Advent which lasts twelve days and culminates on the twelfth night. Christmas is celebrated as a religious holiday by Christians around the world, and it is celebrated culturally by many non-Christians as an integral part of the December holiday season. When is it? December 24, Christmas Eve and December 25, Christmas Day.
Kwanzaa is an annual celebration of African-American culture that is held from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a communal feast called Karamu, usually held on the 6th day. The holiday was created by Maulana Karenga, based on African harvest festival traditions from various parts of Africa. Kwanzaa was first celebrated in 1966. Festivities typically include dancing, performance and candle-lighting. When is it? December 26-January 1. Learn more about Kwanzaa HERE.
Posadas are held in neighborhoods across Mexico and are also becoming popular in the United States. The celebration begins with a procession in which the participants hold candles and sing Christmas carols. Las Posadas lasts for nine-nights. Each night, people go to a party at a different home. In doing this, they commemorate Mary and Joseph’s search for an inn. The participants form a procession to that evening’s location and symbolically ask for shelter. These mini-plays are performed every evening. When is it? It takes place from December 16th until December 24th. Learn more about Las Posadas HERE.
Also known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is an important Jewish festival that runs for eight days. The religious holiday is a celebration of Judaism and commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem. People celebrate by lighting candles, giving presents and eating traditional Hanukkah food. When is it? Hanukkah moves but starts between late November and late December every year. In 2021 it took place from November 28 to December 6. Learn more about Hanukkah HERE.
The December solstice, known as the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, marks the shortest day and the longest night for half of the world. It is considered a winter celebration of the sun. Many modern traditions like caroling and Yule logs (which used to be an actual log, not a chocolate cake) stem from the ancient 12-day Yule festival. When is it? December solstice is celebrated on December 21 and for eleven days after. Learn more about the many December holidays HERE.