Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A December Lesson

The entire Crew and our family wish you and your family a happy holiday season. We thought it would be fun and interesting to learn about cultural celebrations in December.

Christmas (December 25) - Marks and honors the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Modern customs of the holiday include gift-giving, church celebrations, and the display of various decorations including the Christmas tree, lights, mistletoe, nativity scenes and holly. Santa Claus, also referred to as Father Christmas, although the two figures have different origins, is a popular mythological figure often associated with bringing gifts at Christmas.

Christmas is celebrated throughout the Christian population, but is also celebrated by many non-Christians as a secular, cultural festival. The holiday is widely celebrated around the world, including in the United States, where it is celebrated by 96% of the population.

Hannukah (December 22-29) - Known as the Festival of Lights, it is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights. It may occur from late November to late December on the Gregorian calendar.

The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a special candelabrum, the Menorah, one light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. An extra light called a shamash, from Hebrew, meaning "guard" or "servant", is also lit each night, and is given a distinct location, usually higher or lower than the others. The purpose of the extra light is to adhere to the prohibition, specified in the Talmud, against using the Hanukkah lights for anything other than publicizing and meditating on the Hanukkah story. The shamash is used to light the other lights.

Festival of the Sacrifice (December 9) - Eid al-Adha commemorates the prophet Abraham's willingness to obey Allah by sacrificing his son Ishmael. According to the Qu'ran, just before Abraham sacrificed his son, Allah replaced Ishmael with a ram, thus sparing his life.

One of the two most important Islamic festivals, Eid al-Adha begins on the tenth day of Dhu'l-Hijja, the last month of the Islamic calendar. Lasting for three days, it occurs at the conclusion of the annual Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. Muslims all over the world celebrate, not simply those undertaking the hajj.

The festival is celebrated by sacrificing a lamb or other animal and distributing the meat to relatives, friends, and the poor. The sacrifice symbolizes obedience to Allah and its distribution to others is an expression of generosity, one of the five pillars of Islam.

Kwanzaa (December 26 - January 1) - Meaning "first fruits of the harvest", it was first celebrated from December 26, 1966, to January 1, 1967 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 community.

These values are called the Nguzo Saba, which in Swahili means the Seven Principles. They stand at the heart of the origin and meaning of Kwanzaa, for it is these values which are not only the building blocks for community but also serve to reinforce and enhance them. They are: Unity, Self-determination, Collective work & responsibility, Cooperative economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith.

The Winter Solstice (December 21) - In the northern latitudes, midwinter's day has been an important time for celebration throughout the ages. On this shortest day of the year, the sun is at its lowest and weakest, a pivot point from which the light will grow stronger and brighter. This is the turning point of the year. The ancient Romans called it Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. Many cultures the world over perform solstice ceremonies. At their root is an ancient fear that the failing light would never return unless humans intervened with anxious vigil or antic celebration.


At December 10, 2008 6:59 AM, Blogger Babs (Beetle) said...

That was very interesting. I can't wait for my turkey :O)

Purrs, Sukie x

At December 10, 2008 7:25 AM, Blogger Dana said...

Furry cool! Our mom enjoyed reading about the different celebrations. We are glad we celebrate Christmas because we get to play in the tree and Santa Claws brings us gifts of nip and temptations!
~The Creek Cats~

At December 10, 2008 10:09 AM, Blogger Zippy, Sadie and Speedy said...

Hmm, now we is beginning to wonder what mom and dad are celebrating dis year...we haf no tree! So what if Speedy climbs it every year and knocks it down. Dat little bitty one on da table? Dat is not a real Krissmouse tree, it is a toy fur Zippy to sleep unner. Misty, we are glad yoo're getting better...just send Speedy home when yoo get tired of him, we know he can be a pest.

At December 10, 2008 10:56 AM, Blogger Rupert said...

My People don't really celebrate Christmas because they say that they have Christmas EVERY DAY.

Ha! I don't believe this really, because I'd have ornaments to play with all the time and this just isn't happening.

Paws 'n Claws,

At December 10, 2008 12:18 PM, Blogger The Meezers said...

that was really great! Thank you for this - we actually learned a lot!!!

::wanders off to find some stuff to celebrate the solstice...::

At December 10, 2008 2:48 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

Here Christmas is the 24th. Go figure.

Cliff and Olivia

At December 10, 2008 5:58 PM, Blogger Puss-in-Boots said...

It's fun to read what other cultures do. Our mum is having three Christmases this year. On 20Dec, she's getting together with the family cos everybody is going away for Christmas. Then on 24, she's going to a friend's place to celebrate Christmas. Then on 25, our neighbours are all getting together around the pool and she's going there. Three Christmases!!

At December 10, 2008 6:18 PM, Blogger Shadow / Molly said...

We learned sumfin new! Fank yoo!

At December 10, 2008 6:39 PM, Blogger muffinmidi said...

That was furry interesting. I left you a comment on your last enty too.

At December 17, 2008 10:33 AM, Blogger Alex the Blogging Kat said...

Dis berry nice to knowz! Tank u! OK?


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