For eight days in December, this year starting December 21, Jewish people around the world celebrate Chanukah, the “festival of lights.” They light a menorah – a special candleholder – in remembrance of an ancient miracle in which one-day’s worth of oil burned for eight days in their temple. As part of the celebration, they eat potato pancakes called latkes, sing songs, and spin a top called a dreidel to win “gelt” – chocolate coins.
St. Lucia Day
December 13 is St. Lucia Day, a holiday that celebrates this third-Century saint, in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Bavaria, Italy, Malta, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovakia and St. Lucia, West Indies. Many girls dress up as “Lucia brides” in long white gowns with red sashes, and wear a wreath of lighted candles on their heads. They sing songs and offer coffee to their family, along with twisted saffron buns called “Lucia cats.”
Kwanzaa, which means “First Fruits,” is based on ancient African harvest festivals that honor family life and unity. Celebrated from December 26 to January 1, millions of African-Americans and others of African descent dress in vibrant African garb, decorate their homes with fruits and vegetables, and light a candleholder called a kinara.
Around the world, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25. Popular traditions include spending time with family, decorating fir trees and gift giving.
In Greenland, families eat cakes and exchange presents such as model sleighs, pairs of polished walrus tusks, or sealskin mitts. Everyone in the village gets a gift, and children go from home to home, singing songs.
New Year’s Eve
On December 31, families in Ecuador dress a straw man in old clothes to represent the old year. They make a last will for the straw man, listing all of their faults. At midnight, they burn the straw man in hope that their faults will disappear with him.
However and whenever you celebrate, the Gerber Life family wishes you and yours a very happy and healthy holiday season and New Year!