How different cultures celebrate holidays in December

By: Everest Henze, Staff Writer

December is a month of celebration for many cultures. The month itself is rich with traditions from cultures all over the globe, such as here in America, to Japan, all the way to the Middle East. Specifically I will be looking at these three locations in particular, focusing on their traditions exclusively.

Starting with the tradition of Hanukkah is practiced in Judaism. Hanukkah is important to those who follow the Jewish teachings as it is the day that they reclaimed Jerusalem (and subsequently rededicated the temple). It starts on the 25th day of Kislev (typically late November or December) and lasts for eight days and nights. The festival is known for the lighting of the candelabrum, a nine branch metallic candle holder. Typically one branch of the candelabrum is placed higher from the others, and is used to light the remaining eight branches. One candle is lit per day. It is a time for celebrations, therefore many members of the Jewish faith choose to not work during those eight days. Even their doctrines state one should not fast during Hanukkah.

Omisoka is Japanese New Year. However, it is celebrated on the last day of the last month of the year, and is more focused on starting the year anew. Some of the activities one typically might do are finishing tasks such as house cleaning or unpaid debts, so when a new year comes around one is not burdened with past year’s problems. Foods that are served during Omisoka are a type of noodle known as toshikoshi soba, which is typically served plain or with scallions. It is meant to symbolize crossing over from one year to another, It also is used to welcome in the new year and to bring prosperity throughout the new year.

On December 28th, some Christians tend to celebrate Holy Innocents Day. This is to memorialize the children who were killed at Bethlehem by King Herod’s order who are now considered martyrs or Saints of God. It is custom to give the youngest power during that day. They decide where to eat, where to go, and much more.

Although I only mentioned three traditions there are many more that deserve their own article. I encourage everyone to explore not only the origins of their own traditions, but the traditions of their neighbors or close friends.