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The Real Meaning on the Season

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Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa have similarities and differences. You might think that these holidays all have the same meaning, but they don’t. Don’t know what all these holidays have in common and how they are different?  Look below.

Christmas

“The humble birth of Jesus was never intended to conceal the reality that God was being born into the world”, states The History Channel.    Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.   However, many people spend the holiday of Christmas exchanging presents, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive.   Christmas is on December 25, which has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870.   Christians could not imagine Christmas on any other day than December 25, but it was not always that way.   “The first three centuries of Christianity’s existence, Jesus’ birth wasn’t celebrated at all.” (historychannel.com)  The first mention of December 25 as a holiday, Jesus’ birthday, appeared in an early Roman calendar from 336 A. D.   Was Jesus really born on December 25?  Probably not.   After the church decided on December 25 at the end of the third century, they wanted to coincide with existing pagan festivals which were honoring Saturn (the Roman god of agriculture) and Mithra (the Persian god of light).   They decided the 25th so “it became easier to convince Rome’s pagan subjects to accept Christianity as the empire’s official religion.”

Hanukkah

“Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar and usually falls in November or December,” says The History Channel.   The Jewish calendar is a solar calendar and is based on the earth’s rotation around the sun.   The Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar and is based on the earth’s rotation around the sun.   One of the calendars is based on the moon and the other one is based on the sun, which means that two cycles are in use.    “This is an eight-day celebration known as Hanukkah or Chanukah recall the rededication during the second century B.C of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where according to legends Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt.   The focus of the holiday is not so much going to synagogue or reading certain scriptures, but rather staying at home with friends and family, eating, playing, and just spending time together.   Some Jews incorporate a little bit of Christmas into their Hanukkah spirit.  “Even though the two holidays have vastly different religious and historical origins and focus, both Christmas and Hanukkah are a beautiful opportunity to open up one’s house and heart and spread some joy.”

Kwanzaa

“The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili,” says The History Channel.    Every family that celebrates Kwanzaa does it in their own way.    The celebration includes songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal.   During this holiday, it similar to Hanukkah by lighting candles.   On each of the seven nights, the family gathers and one of the children light one of the candles on the Kinara (candle-holder).    After the candle is lit, they discuss one of the seven principles.   The principles are called the Nguzo Saba, which means seven principles in Swahili.   The seven principles are values of African culture which contributes to a building or reinforcing the community among African Americans.   At the end of Kwanzaa, an African feast, which is called Karamu, is held on December 31st.

Works Cited
The History Channel (Kwanzaa)- History.com Editors. “Kwanzaa.” HISTORY. A&E Television Networks.  <https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/kwanzaa-history > Oct. 14, 2009. Web. Dec 12, 2018.
The History Channel (Christmas)- History.com Editors. “History of Christmas.” HISTORY. A&E Television Networks.< https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas > Oct. 27, 2009. Web. Dec 12, 2018.
The History Channel (Hanukkah)- History.com Editors. “Hanukka.” HISTORY.  A&E Television Networks.< https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/hanukkah  > Oct. 27, 2009. Web. Dec. 12, 2018.
Pacific Standard-  Luzer, Daniel. “WHY IS HANUKKAH SO CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH CHRISTMAS?”. Pacific Standard. TEMPEST.        < https://psmag.com/social-justice/jewish-arbor-day-christmas-holiday-shopping-hanukkah-71203 > Dec. 10, 2013. Web. 12 Dec. 2018.
HowStuffWorks- Stephanie Watson “How Kwanzaa Works” 19 October 2004.
HowStuffWorks.com. <https://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/holidays-other/kwanzaa.htm> Oct. 19, 2004. Web. Dec. 12, 2018.
The Africa Center- AKWANSOSEM AFRICAN STUDIES PROGRAM – OUTREACH, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON Vol. III, No. 2<https://www.africa.upenn.edu/K-12/Kwanzaa_What_16661.html> – March, 1990. Web. Dec. 12, 2018
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About the Writer
Mackayla Males, Author

Mackayla is a Freshman at Redbank Valley High School. This is her first year writing for The Bark. You will most likely see her writing about sports and...

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