Celebration of winter holidays includes many religions, ethnicities


Carson TerBush Used under Creative Commons license

Ornaments from minority religious groups decorate a pine tree to reflect on religious holidays.

Calla Reynolds, Copy Editor

The month of December is known to be dedicated to multiple religious holidays, infamously including Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Rohatsu. 

Christmas has no definite major celebration, but families typically share a personal repeated tradition implicated on this holiday.  Customarily, individuals share wrapped presents amongst another as a casual form of observance. Since the original Christmas celebrations, a great number of families continue to gather for feasts.  According to Travel Pulse, 85 million Christian Americans plan to travel to visit relatives for gift exchanges followed by a hearty dinner. 

Rohatsu marks the day Buddha – sometimes recognized as Siddhartha Gautama or Shakyamuni Buddha – pledged to sit himself under the Bodhi tree where he attained spiritual insight. In 2021, this day is commemorated on December 8th within Buddhism. Present-day celebrations include people stringing lights through their Bodhi or ficus trees, in representation of the route to religious enlightenment. Cookies are often baked in the shape of Bodhi tree leaves to bring the mind toward Buddha. Zen Buddhists visit the sesshin, a place of religious zen for Buddhists,  for a week – the last day being Rohatsu itself – to meditate.  In the year of 2022, this holiday will be celebrated on January 10th. 

Starting on November 28 and running until December 6, Hanukkah was in observance.  Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday set in place to commemorate the second temple built in Jerusalem – the capital of Israel and spiritual homeland of the Jewish. To celebrate, Jews light the menorah – more so identified as a candle holder with seven to nine branches – as a symbol of universal enlightenment. Festive meals, such as sufganiyot and latkes, are cooked and eaten during this holiday span. One of the most well-known Hanukkah traditions is playing the dreidel game. This game consists of small, cube-shaped wooden pieces that teach Hebrew and educate the participants on the Torah. 

Most Kwanzaa traditions have dwindled in recent years, but lasting celebrations are similar to those practiced on Christmas. Kwanzaa is acknowledged by African families, predominantly in the United States. This day, December 26, looks back upon African history and brings mind to African traditional values. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hebrews, and Hindus of color acknowledge this holiday.