Chanukah celebrations are concluding, Las Posadas celebrations are beginning, and Solstice will be here soon! We’re a little more than halfway through the wonderful month of December and the celebrations of different cultures and religions are taking place.
In the first of our series, we talked about celebrants honoring the Saints who engaged in giving to people in need. In our second of the series, we talked about overcoming circumstances of finding shelter and welcoming the Chanukah miracle. Now in this third of the series we will be preparing to experience new birth and new beginnings.
In Series #3 we will cover Christmas, Kwanzaa and Three Kings Day. Many of us celebrate Christmas, in different ways, and we’ll do our best to answer what is the celebration, why is it important and how is it celebrated. We’ll also do that with Kwanzaa, speaking about the meaning of each of the seven days. Three Kings Day is unfamiliar to many of us, so as always, we’re ready to learn the meaning of this celebration.
We’re familiar with the different ways Christmas is celebrated in the US and they are quite diverse. If a family is focused on the spiritual meaning of the Christmas Eve and Christmas day, there will likely be decorations in the home and an event or concert at the house of worship on Christmas Eve, celebrating the birth of the Holy Child. And of course, a family celebration on Christmas Day with food and gifts. If the family celebrates Christmas as a cultural holiday, there will be decorations and a beautiful tree, gifts for all, food of course, and possibly a Santa Claus story for the little ones.
For many of us Christmas is a mixture of cultural and spiritual, giving the holiday meaning related to the coming of Divine Light into the world. As we follow the celebrations the most dominant meaning of Christmas is Love – love for one another as in the actions of the Saints, love for our ability to worship as in Chanukah and love for the Divine amongst us as in the Holy Child.
We did a little search on how Christmas is celebrated around the world and we found some fun facts from Good Housekeeping. Read the full article [HERE]. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate around the world! This is indeed a diverse holiday.
Kwanzaa was created as a holiday celebration nearly 60 years ago by African American activist, Maulana Ron Karenga. His expressed intention was to 1) Reaffirm and restore African heritage and culture 2) Introduce and reinforce the Seven Principles 3) Serve as a nationally celebrated communal and non-heroic holiday. It is based on African harvest festival traditions from various parts of West and Southeast Africa. Kwanzaa is widely celebrated in African American households.
During the week of Kwanzaa, families and communities come together to share a feast, to honor the ancestors, and affirm the bonds between them. Each day a candle is lit to highlight the principle of that day. A meal will be shared, sayings or writings of great black thinkers and writers will be enjoyed, there will be African drumming. The Principles are as follows:
Umoja (Unity): To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our community’s problems our problems and to solve them together.
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
Kwanzaa is a beautiful, and restorative tradition that completes the old year and begins the new year. It begins the day after Christmas, on Tuesday December 26th, and continues to the New Year, Monday January 1st. We went to the Smithsonian Museum of African American history and culture for our information about Kwanzaa. Link [HERE].
Three Kings Day
This ‘conclusion to the season’ is celebrated in Mexico and Puerto Rico, plus a number of other countries. It is also referred to as Epiphany. Our sources for this information are National Geographic [HERE] and a lifestyle blog available [HERE].
“At the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas comes a day called the Epiphany, or Three Kings Day. This holiday is celebrated as the day the three wise men first saw baby Jesus and brought him gifts. On this day in Spain, many children get their Christmas presents. In Puerto Rico, before children go to sleep on January 5, they leave a box with hay under their beds so the kings will leave good presents. In France, a delicious “kings’ cake” known as la galette des rois is baked. Bakers hide a coin, jewel, or little toy inside it.
“The Three Kings Day traditions in Mexico involve all the elements of Christmas: family, gifts, and food. An interesting Three Kings Day fact is that for many children, it’s the three Wise Men who bring Christmas gifts, not Santa Claus, and in the days leading up to the holiday, kids will be writing letters with their hopes and dreams to the Magi.”
This year Three Kings Day will be celebrated on Friday, January 6th. It’s part of what makes the Christmas holiday season in Mexico so warm and festive, and if you’re lucky enough to be in the country on January 6, you’ll get to taste another part of Mexican culture.
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We hope readers have enjoyed our glimpse into various cultures through learning about celebrations in December. We have enjoyed this journey, and we appreciate learning ‘what’ is the celebration, ‘why’ and ‘how’ is it celebrated. This information serves to broaden our knowledge of the human families. Coming to know each other is one of the rewards of a commitment to diversity.
Happy Holidays to ALL. December is truly a special time where the entire world celebrates. The most beautiful aspect of this season is our yearning for Peace on Earth and Goodwill for all. May our prayers be answered.