The Traditions of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa

The holidays are right around the corner, but Christmas isn’t the only holiday we celebrate in December. There’s also Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and many others. All of these holidays celebrate different things and have various types of customs and traditions.

Kwanzaa, a week-long celebration, celebrates the cultural heritage and traditional values of African Americans. A college professor, Dr. Maulana, Karenga, created the holiday, Kwanzaa in 1996 after the riots in Los Angeles. He tried to bring African-Americans together as a community. There are seven days and seven candles that represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa:

  • Umoja, unity- unity of the family, community, nation, and race

  • Kujichagulia: Self-determination- Being responsible for your own conduct and behavior

  • Ujima: Collective work and responsibility- working to help each other and in the community

  • Ujamaa: Cooperative economics- working to build shops and businesses

  • Nia: Purpose- Remembering and restoring African and African-American cultures, customs, and history

  • Kuumba: Creativity- Using creating and your imagination to make communities better.

  • Imani: Faith- Believing in people, families, leaders, teachers, and the righteousness of the African American struggle

This year Kwanzaa starts on Tuesday, December 26th, 2017 and ends on Monday, January 1st, 2018.

Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is another holiday celebrated in December. Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights. It celebrates the rededication of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, the Holy Temple. The menorah holds nine candles. Of those nine, eight symbolize the number of days that the temple lantern blazed; the ninth and last candle is a helper candle, a candle used to light the other eight. On each night, a new branch is lit by the shamash, or helper candle. This year Hanukkah, or Chanukah, starts the evening of Wednesday, December 12th, 2017 and ends the evening of Monday, December 20th, 2017.

As you can see, there are other important holidays celebrated in December. Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are just two, there are many more. Remember these holidays as it gets closer and closer to the holidays.

By Lillian Wittek

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