What’s the deal with December holidays?
By Jennifer Dorozio, Contributor
If December isn’t the perfect season to pretend to be a little bit religious, I don’t know what is.
There are nativity scenes speckled about the city, vague baby-Jesus-centered lyrics fuzzing through your car radio, and religious services woven into some of your favourite Christmas movies.
You may even toss around the idea of attending a candlelit Christmas Eve reading of the nativity story or heck if you want to get even crazier consider participating in advent.
If you think of yourself as a bit of an innocent-undercover-religious-faker and are more than a little curious as to the history behind some of the celebrations of religion that go on in December the list below is here to help:
Christmas Day, Dec. 25
For me, growing up in a Christian family, Christmas day always began with a big family breakfast and a reading from the Bible in Matthew chapter two. It wasn’t until recently that I realized the story of the birth of Jesus is actually kind of epic in nature. According to the Bible, God saw that the world needed a saviour, so he sent his son down to earth in the form of a baby. Yes, the story does involve a young teenage girl getting pregnant sans sex, but that’s not even the most interesting part. Due to the holiday rush, every room had been booked in town so baby Jesus ended up being born in a stable. This didn’t stop people from finding him the night of his birth. All manner of important guests closed in on that stable, they were following a star that had been placed in the sky to guide them to the birthplace. The list of attendees included but was not limited to wise men, shepherds and an angel of the Lord. It is contested whether Jesus was actually born on Christmas day, let alone in December. Still, the birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated by those who believe in the Bible as a holy day to give to others and reflect on when the world received the “greatest gift of all:” Little baby Jesus.
Kwanzaa, Dec. 26-Jan. 1
Although technically Kwanzaa is categorized as a cultural holiday and not a religious one so as to be more inclusive, it still makes this list as a large focus of it is spending time in reverence for the creator, according to the officialkwanzaawebsite.org. That same website states that the name ‘Kwanzaa’ is derived from the original Swahili phrase ‘matunda ya kwana’ which translates to ‘first fruits’. At the time of Kwanzaa many things are celebrated but the main goal is to, “reaffirm and restore our rootedness in African culture.”
Hanukkah, Dec. 24-Jan. 1
Hanukkah, “remembers the rededication of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem,” after a time when it was defiled by a former ruler, according to whychristmas.com. This fits in with the meaning of the word Hanukkah that is “dedication.” Every night during the eight days of Hanukkah, “a candle is lit in a special menorah (candelabra) called a ‘hanukkiyah.’” Along with the lighting of these candles special prayers are said thanking God. Similar to a Christmas tree, the menorah is often placed in front of windows in the hope that those walking by see the candles and think the story of Hanukkah. Even better than Christmas, gifts are exchanged throughout the week as giving and receiving are encouraged.