The Chomp

The Student News Site of Gateway Regional High School

The Chomp

The Student News Site of Gateway Regional High School

The Chomp

The Student News Site of Gateway Regional High School

A Deep Dive Into the Winter Holidays

What winter holidays do you celebrate?
A winter scene filled with festive houses in a snowy climate
Creative
A winter scene filled with festive houses in a snowy climate

When thinking about winter holidays, most people usually imagine Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Hanukkah. However, many other holidays don’t get the attention they deserve. Additionally, people do not know the true origin or meaning of the holidays that are frequently discussed. The holidays focused on in this article are Christmas, Hanukkah, Three Kings Day, Lunar New Year, Kwanzaa, and the Winter Solstice.

What is Christmas? 

Christmas is a celebration that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. In current times, it’s not only a religious holiday but a cultural and commercial holiday. It is a holiday for celebrating the birth of Jesus and also a day for giving and receiving gifts and joy. Religiously, Christians celebrate it as the birthday of Jesus of Nazareth. He was the spiritual leader whose popular education formed the basis of Christianity. Traditional celebrations of Christmas include exchanging gifts, decorating the interior and exterior of homes, going to church, and having a nice meal with family or friends. Christmas, celebrated on December 25, has been an official holiday since 1870.

What is Hanukkah? 

Hanukkah has been around for more than 2,000 years. Celebrated from Dec 7th to December 15th, it is an eight-day celebration. It celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple during 200 B.C. When the Land of Israel (Judea) gained control of the Seleucid King of Syria (Antiochus III). Antiochus III was the one who allowed the Jews to live there and practice their religion freely. 

What is Three Kings Day?

Three Kings Day is celebrated on January 6th and is marked as the end of Christmas. It is also referred to as the Feast of Epiphany.  The reason it is referred to as Three Kings Day is that many believe that on January 6, the three wise men (Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar) presented the infant Jesus. With that, they presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Christians commonly celebrate this holiday in Spain, Latin America, and America.

The traditions behind this holiday are unique with people in different parts of the world celebrating differently. In Spain, the holiday is commonly known as Dia de Los Reyes. Parades and performances are a usual part of this celebration. In some parts of the world, they take down the Christmas tree and burn it. However, in Europe, the traditions differ. Children line their shoes up outside of their homes. This is so that the Three Kings know where to leave their gifts. Another place the tradition differs is in South America. In South America, Three Kings Day is celebrated with a cake for dessert, this is called Rosca de Reyes. The cake that is served usually has a little figure of Jesus inside of it. Whoever finds the figure, or receives the piece with it, must make tamales for everyone celebrating the Day of Candles which falls on February 2nd. This celebration is also popular in New Orleans. Though it’s also a Christian holiday, it’s not the same as Christmas. The gift-giving continues all the way to the 12th day of Christmas, and sometimes, the three kings bring more gifts than the man commonly known as Santa. 

What is Kwanzaa?

Kwanza is a seven-day celebration that lasts from December 26th to January 1st. What does Kwanzaa mean? The name Kwanzaa originates from “matunda ya kwanza”, a phrase that means “first fruits”. Depending on the family or person who is celebrating it, there is no set tradition for the holiday. However, it is commonly celebrated with singing and dancing. Along with African drums, reading of poetry, a large meal, and storytelling. On each night, a child lights one of the candles on the candleholder, which is referred to as the Kinara. After that event happens, they discuss one of the 7 principles. The 7 principles are the important values and beliefs of African Culture. Those principles are referred to as Nguzo Saba.  The Nguzo Saba are what help them build and contribute to the community. On the last day of December, Karamu, an African feast, is held.

What are those 7 principles that lay out their culture? 

  1. Unity
  2.  Self-determination 
  3. Collective work and responsibility
  4. Cooperative economics 
  5. Purpose 
  6. Creativity
  7. Faith. 
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About the Contributor
Hazel Foster, Staff Writer
Hi! My name is Hazel Foster, and I try to write mostly about universal topics and/or things that’d be interesting to the majority! I’m a freshman, but I’ve been here at Gateway since 7th grade, although this is my first year writing in THE CHOMP. I love animals, nature, decorating things, my boyfriend, Dance Moms, and writing!
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