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What are you celebrating this holiday season?

by Olivia O'Malley December 1, 2015
What are you celebrating this holiday season?

There are so many awesome holidays in December, don’t limit yourself to just one

There are many other holidays celebrated in the month of December that don’t receive as much attention as Christmas. Christmas has become such a large commercialised holiday in North America, with celebrations starting as early as the end of November. Other holidays, whether religious or not, are overshadowed by it, so here are a few alternative celebrations for you to explore this festive season!

Happy holidays to all, no matter what you celebrate. Photo by Cristina Sanza.

Happy holidays to all, no matter what you celebrate. Photo by Cristina Sanza.

Kwanzaa
From Dec. 26 to Jan. 1

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration honouring African heritage in African-American culture.  Kwanzaa was established as a means to help African-Americans reconnect with their cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and the study of African traditions and the seven principles of African Heritage, according to the official Kwanzaa website. The seven principles include: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, co-operative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. Families celebrating Kwanzaa decorate their house with art, colourful cloths and fruits that represent African culture.

On Dec. 26 there will be a Kwanzaa celebration at U N I A located at 2741 Notre-Dame St. West  from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

 

Hanukkah
From Dec. 6 to Dec. 14

Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire of the 2nd century BC, as stated on jewfaq.org. According to the Talmud, The Temple was purified and the wicks of the menorah miraculously burned for eight days, even though there was only enough sacred oil for one day’s lighting. Hanukkah festivities include lighting one candle on the menorah each night, playing dreidel, eight days of gift giving and eating traditional foods such as latkes.

On Dec. 10 at 5 p.m. there will be a Community Hanukkah Celebration at the Westmount City Hall located at 4333 Sherbrooke St. West. There will be games, music, Hanukkah gelts, refreshments, raffles and more.

 

Pancha Ganapati
From Dec. 21 to Dec. 25

Pancha Ganapati is a modern five-day Hindu festival in honour of Lord Ganesha, Patron of the Arts and Guardian of Culture. It was created as a Hindu alternative to December holidays, according to Hinduism Today. During the five days, the entire family focuses on a special spiritual discipline which centers on a new beginning and mending all past mistakes. Shrines are created in living rooms and decorated in the spirit of this occasion. A statue of Lord Ganesha is placed in the center surrounded by pine boughs or banana leaves, flashing lights, and tinsel. He is dressed each morning in different colours that represent his five powers. Treats are shared, chants and songs are sung in his praise and gifts are given to the children.

 

St. Lucia’s Day
Dec. 13

St. Lucia’s Day, also known as St. Lucy’s Day, is an ancient Swedish festival in honour of Saint Lucia. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, she was one of the earliest Christian martyrs after being killed during the Diocletianic Persecution, a persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire in 304 AD. She was killed because her Christian practices differed from the traditional Roman practices. In Scandinavian countries, each town elects its own Saint Lucia to lead a procession of young girls dressed in white, wearing lighted wreaths on their heads, and boys dressed in white pyjama-like costumes singing traditional songs. The festival is meant to bring hope and light during the darkest time of the year. Traditional foods such as saffron bread and ginger biscuits are prepared by the eldest daughters in households and are served to family and guests.

Attend traditional Swedish St. Lucia’s day celebrations at the Norwegian Church in Lachine at 5065 Sherbrooke St. West on Dec. 12 at 1 p.m. Registration is required.

 

Festivus
Dec. 23

Out of a fight for a doll, a new holiday was born, “a Festivus for the rest of us.”  It was created in 1996 by Seinfeld screenwriter Dan O’Keefe to combat commercialization around Christmas, according to FestivusWeb.com. Two Seinfeld characters, George Costanza and his father, Mr. Costanza, make up the holiday during an episode of the show. Instead of a tree, an aluminum pole is set up in the house and at Festivus dinner you tell your family all the ways they have disappointed you in the past year.

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