December has arrived and the New Year will soon be upon us so here is a run-down of the holiday events that will be closing off 2015!
What is Hanukkah?
This holiday is celebrated by the Jewish community and lasts for 8 days (December 6 – 14). Back in 165 B.C.E the Greek king of Syria, outlawed Jewish rituals and ordered the Jews to worship Greek gods. Most Jews were, understandably, angry and decided to fight back. The Jewish rebel army managed to drive the opposing Syrian army out of Jerusalem and so reclaimed their land. Hanukkah is the celebration of this victory.
How is Hanukkah celebrated?
You can usually find a 9-branched candelabra, called a Hanukkiah, lit. The 8 branches are set alight to represent the 8 days of Hanukkah while the 9th is used to light the others.
A common past-time for Jews during Hanukkah is playing the dreidel which is used for gambling with small candies, nuts or fruit!
Treats and gifts are often exchanged everyday during the 8 days. Childeren are given chocolate and money whereas the parents can receive other gifts including: books, oils and cooking recipes.
An important part of Hanukkah is the food. Traditional Jewish foods such as Latkes, doughnuts, and foods fried in oil are eaten by the families in these 8 days.
What is Kwanzaa?
This holiday was created in 1966 and is relatively new as holidays go. Unlike other holidays, it is not tied to any religion – it was created for Africans to celebrate their heritage. It got its name from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which thanks the gods for their harvest.
It lasts from December 2 to the 1st of January.
How is it celebrated?
During Kwanzaa homes are decorated, gifts are exchanged and candles are lit! Each day a different candle is lit to represent a different African principle and each day it is a different candle that is lit.
Commonly, during Kwanzaa, you can find many people taking part in musical gatherings, candle lighting rituals and the feast that takes place on the 6th day (New Years eve).
What is Christmas?
Taking place on the 25th of December each year, this (as well as Easter) is one of the most important days of the year for Christians as it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus!
Often, children are told that Father Christmas (Santa) will squeeze down the chimney and put presents under the Christmas tree for each boy and girl that has been good this year but if you’ve been bad… you can expect to find coal in your stocking!
How is it celebrated?
Christmas is celebrated with popular festive carols, the most popular being ‘Silent Night’ and ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’. Due to its popularity Christmas is also very embedded into pop culture. Best selling artists and songs include: ‘Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?’, Michael Bublé and soundtracks to films such as Home Alone and The Muppet Christmas Carol.
Each year families will decorate a fir tree with tinsel, wooden ornaments, baubles, sweets and then decoratively wrap presents to then be set under the tree for opening in morning. Treats and snacks are also prepared by families which include sausage rolls, mince pies, pigs in blankets and many others!
Then comes the feast! Traditionally a roast Turkey or Goose will be cooked, Brussels sprouts, roast potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing and lots of gravy!
When the day draws to an end it is likely that the family settle down to watch some festive television, movies or to keep themselves busy with the gifts they have just received.
From everyone here at The Travel Visa Company we would like to wish you all Happy Holidays!