Merry Christmas! Happy holidays! Did you know that there are several holidays celebrated every winter, and each has a unique story and reason for celebration? Perhaps you know someone who participates in one or more of these holidays, or perhaps you yourself celebrate them. Let’s take a look at some of the most common and popular winter festivities around the United States and around the world.
The first winter holiday is Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah), which takes place in late November or early December. The story for the basis of this Jewish holiday is found in the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees. In the second century B.C., the Greeks had gained control of modern-day Europe, and they were trying to make all the citizens of their empire become more Greek. This included banning many Jewish traditions and customs. However, a group of Jewish rebels known as the Maccabees refused to accept this, and they fought back. They also sought to sanctify their temple, an important place of worship and fellowship in their faith. According to legend, there was only enough oil to light the temple’s candles for a single day, but the candles remained lit for eight days. Thus, Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days, and the menorah (candelabra) is a key symbol in this. Hanukkah festivities are characterized by said menorah, gift-giving, playing dreidel (a top-spinning game in which you can win chocolate coins), and eating foods fried in oil to commemorate the miraculous oil in the temple.
Saint Nicholas Day is next in the winter timeline. Celebrated on December 6, this holiday tributes the original “Santa Claus”. Saint Nicholas was a church leader from the late 3rd century A.D. to the middle of the 4th century A.D. He had great wealth but wanted to keep his generosity anonymous. On several occasions, he was known to deposit coins into socks which were hanging up to dry. Since then, we’ve developed the tradition of hanging stockings for Saint Nicholas/Santa Claus to place gifts in. He is typically depicted wearing red, which is where we get the idea of the red suit for Santa Claus. Nowadays, people normally associate gift-giving and Saint Nicholas with Christmas, but these traditions began with the anniversary of this man’s death on December 6.
Christmas is the most well-known and most popular winter holiday of them all. December 25, which was once a pagan holiday, now commemorates the birth of Jesus, the Messiah in Christianity. While many Christmas customs have strayed from the traditional message, most Christians still celebrate the birth of the Christ child by attending church and reading His story in the gospels (particularly the Gospel of Luke, which contains the most detailed description). The Nativity is also a common tradition which still remains true to the heart of the holiday; it depicts Jesus’ birth in a stable, laid in a manger, surrounded by animals and his mother and adoptive father. Most people celebrate Christmas by giving gifts, inspired both by the legend of Saint Nicholas and the arrival of the Magi. These Magi, also called “the Wise Men”, were famously led by a star which brought them to Jesus’ home sometime after his birth; they presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Kwanzaa is one of the most recently developed winter holidays. It takes place from December 26 to January 1 and is celebrated mainly in the United States and several African countries. Each day, participants focus on one of seven principles of self-reflection and community involvement. The principles are accompanied by songs, book excerpts, and special foods every day. On New Year’s Eve, the final day of Kwanzaa, they celebrate with a feast known as Karamu.
Whether it’s Hanukkah, St. Nicholas Day, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or something else, we’ve got just what you need this holiday season. We know you want to spend as much time as possible with your loved ones, and we are working hard to make that happen!
We work with you to design your building just the way you want it, but we are dedicated to “Keeping It Simple and Stress-free (K.I.S.S.)” for you! We pride ourselves on being easy and efficient to work with, and we hope you’ll see for yourself (if you haven’t already)!
Our buildings are strong, efficient, and affordable- perfect for keeping your family safe and warm this Christmas (or other winter holiday) season.