December Holidays: Celebrations Beyond Christmas

December 20, 2019

Brunswick Forest is a master-planned community that is home to thousands who have moved here from all over the country. Our neighborhoods are home to a diverse and welcoming group of people! Quite often, December holidays prompts thoughts of Christmas. But there’s more than just hanging your stockings by the fireplace during the December season.

Hanukkah has long been celebrated by Jewish Americans as “the festival of lights.” Traditions such as lighting nine candles on the menorah, the gifting of chocolate coins, playing games with a dreidel and so on have been the standard for many decades. The story of why Hanukkah is celebrated goes deeper than just what a casual observer sees from the outside. Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, first came to light during a turbulent time in Jewish history. Antiochus IV, a Syrian king who ruled ancient Judea, outlawed the Jewish religion and ordered the faithful to worship Greek Gods instead. In the year of 168 B.C. his soldiers desecrated sacred Jewish grounds, including one of their most important temples. Later, Judah Maccabee drove the Syrians out of Jerusalem and re-took their temple. He and his followers then witnessed what they could only describe as a miracle; though they only had enough oil to burn the temple’s candles for one day, the candles burned for eight nights. To this day, the concept of celebrating a “holiday of dedication” is still celebrated by Jewish faithful across the country. For 2019, Hanukkah falls on December 22nd and goes on until December 30th.

While it might not be celebrated as a religious holiday, the practice of celebrating Kwanzaa is culturally significant. Kwanzaa has been regarded as a general celebration of African culture both in America and the African mainland. Its origins go back to ancient harvest traditions held by tribes such as the Zulu and Ashanti, but the modern concept of Kwanzaa was developed in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga. During the turbulent race riots of 1966, this chairman of Black Studies at California State University wanted a way to bring African American communities together. The name Kwanzaa roughly translates to “first fruits” from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” in Swahili. Often celebrated for seven nights, Kwanzaa celebrations involve feasting, dancing, music and storytelling. Families that celebrate Kwanzaa do so in their own unique way, but most often involve lighting candles on Kinara. The Kinara is a special candleholder, in which a candle is lit for each night that Kwanzaa is celebrated, not too unlike the Hanukkah Menorah. Each candle represents one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, such as unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. This holiday might be relatively young, but it reinforces a sense of unity and togetherness for many communities of African descent. Kwanzaa will run from December 26th until January 1st for 2019/2020.

No matter what your heritage is or what sort of holiday you choose to celebrate, Brunswick Forest encourages you to be open to all cultures for the holiday season. After all, coming together as one family is all a part of what makes our community so special! Whatever you choose to celebrate, be safe and do so merrily.

To learn more about our incredible community and the people who have made Brunswick Forest home, contact us at: 855.983.9579