History of the holidays

The holiday season includes a number of different celebrations, from different cultures all over the world. When most hear holidays, they think of Christmas, but that’s not the only thing people are celebrating. Here is a list with a brief history of each of the upcoming holidays.


This popular holiday originated with the religion of Christianity and is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ on Dec. 25. While many continue to celebrate for religious reasons, many celebrate this holiday only for fun. Christmas is celebrated differently all around the world. Here in the United States, Christmas doesn’t seem complete without snow. Yet in Australia, Christmas is during their summer and so you’ll probably see a lot more sandmen than snowmen over there. Traditions vary, for example in England kids will leave mince pies and brandy for Father Christmas instead of milk and cookies for Santa Claus. In Iceland, there are actually 13 Santas, one arriving each night in the 13 days before Christmas. 


Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that is celebrated for 8 consecutive days. This year it falls on Dec. 11 and goes until Dec. 18. The history of the holiday originated from the second century when Jewish people were oppressed by Greek-Syrians. They Revolted and took back the Second Temple, which had been desecrated. They rebuilt the altar and lit the menorah. The menorah was supposed to be lit every night, but the Jews only had enough oil for one night, and not enough time to find a fresh supply. But by some miracle, the oil lasted 8 nights, therefore creating the 8-day long holiday. Jewish people continue to celebrate each year by lighting the menorah each night of Hanukkah and exchanging gifts and indulging in special Hanukkah foods. 


Kwanzaa is a newer holiday, created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black studies at California State University. He created Kwanzaa as a way to bring African Americans together. Many people celebrate the holiday differently, but most celebrations include song and dance, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading and a large traditional meal. The holiday is seven nights long and each night a candle is lit. Each candle represents a different principle. The principles are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. On December 31st, an African feast called a Karamu is held. 

Winter Solstice

December 21st, the shortest day of the year, also known as the winter solstice. In pagan religions, the solstices are important holidays to be celebrated. The holiday has also been called Yule, and it includes similar traditions to Christmas, like putting up an evergreen tree. Winter solstice celebrations often include candles and crystals. Many celebrate by meditating and giving back to nature.