The Holiday Season Across the Globe | Emily Gao

The Holiday Season Across the Globe

by: Emily Gao

 

The most well known holidays -- Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, New Years -- we are all fairly knowledgeable about these. However the world is full of amazing customs and traditions. Let’s call it the “Christmas” or the “Thanksgiving” of other cultures. Here are just a few.

 

Kwanzaa: December 26th - January 1st  

Kwanzaa is a week long African American and Pan-African holiday celebrated by millions of individuals in the United States and in other nations of the African diaspora. It celebrates and honors African heritage, unity, and culture. It often consists of several feasts and gift-giving practices. Families celebrating will often decorate their households with traditional African art and cloths. Women will often wear special African silky wraps called kaftans. Ceremonies are also often held that include musical performances, the reading of the African Pledge, and discussion of African history. A candle-lighting ritual is also a common practice with these ceremonies. This holiday was first created by activist and professor Maulana Karenga and was first celebrated in 1966.

 

Lunar New Year: February 5th

We traditionally calculate our years my measuring how the earth revolves around our sun: one full revolution around the sun is equivalent to one year. For the lunar calendar, days and years are measured according to the moon and its phases. Lunar New Year is the celebration of the New Year with the lunar calendar. A multitude of East Asian countries celebrate the Lunar New Year -- including China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Tibet, and Vietnam. This holiday celebrates love, family, and thankfulness. Celebrations of the New Year often include traveling back to the parents house for feasts, lantern festivals, fireworks, and the gifting of red envelopes to children.  The feast usually occurs the day before Lunar New Year. Some traditional foods served on this day are sticky rice cakes, hot pot, and dumplings. The use of puns is also prominent in the celebration of the holiday. For example, the Chinese word for sticky rice cakes, niangao, sounds like the Chinese pronunciation for “good year”. Thus, people often eat these sticky rice cakes during Lunar New Year in hopes it will bring them a good year.

 

Diwali: November 7th (already passed)

Also known as Deepavali or Dipavali, Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights that is celebrated every Autumn. This celebration symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. Temples, homes, shops, and often buildings are decorated with lights for this five day celebration. The climax of this holiday falls on the 3rd day of this celebration, in which celebrants will wear their finest clothes and illuminate their homes with diyas (oil lamps). Family feasts are also an essential component of this holiday, where many sweets and gifts are exchanges.