How are holidays celebrated in other countries?

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How are holidays celebrated in other countries?

Mary Kate Machi, Staff Writer

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90 percent of the people in America celebrate Christmas. The second Thanksgiving dinner is over, red and green lights, Christmas trees, Santa, gifts, cookie-decorating, and stockings can be seen everywhere. However, besides Christmas, many other holidays are celebrated around the world during this festive season.

The second most popular holiday around this time of year in America is Hanukkah, which celebrates the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Out of every 15 Americans, 1 celebrates this Jewish holiday. The main item associated with Hanukkah is a menorah, which holds eight candles, each one representing one day in which the lantern in the Temple blazed.

“Hanukkah means unity and blessing for my family. For me, the story of Hanukkah is about blessings and miracles, and the holiday is meant for people to reflect on the miracles and blessings in their lives,” said Gaby Mirsky (‘19).

Another popular yet lesser-known winter holiday is Kwanzaa, which is celebrated by about 30 million African-Americans from December 26 to January 1. Each day corresponds to one of the different Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba), which are Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith).

Maulana Karenga, who invented Kwanzaa back in 1966, said she created the holiday to “introduce and reinforce seven basic values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture among African American people as well as Africans throughout the world African community.”

Along with other non-Christmas holidays that are celebrated, there are also different ways of celebrating Christmas that are specific to other parts of the world. For example, Latin America celebrates Las Posadas, a nine-day period celebrating Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to stay before Jesus was born. One couple, portraying Mary and Joseph, go from door to door singing and asking to stay the night until one family lets them in, and song, food, prayer, and other celebrations occur inside.

In the UK and Ireland, the Christmas celebrations extend for another day on December 26 for Boxing Day. The name comes from an old tradition where servants would get a ‘Christmas box’ from their masters and the day off after Christmas. It has since transformed into a day spent with family, relaxation, and popular sports to unwind after the Christmas day celebrations. Some people take advantage of the many shopping sales that have made an appearance in recent years, and most people take this day as an opportunity to eat delicious Christmas food leftovers.

In the Philippines, Simbang Gabi is a nine-day celebration leading up to Christmas in which masses are celebrated at dawn each day, culminating on Christmas Eve and “Misa del Gallo” — midnight mass. The tradition of having mass so early started because farmers had to celebrate mass before they went to work in the fields before it got too hot; mass was sometimes celebrated as early as 4:00 in the morning. After mass is celebrated, food is usually served and eaten for breakfast.

No matter where you are, every place around the world has their own holiday or version of it. Each is different and unique in its own way, and truly shows the diversity present from one place to another.

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