Millions of people celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or
Kwanzaa this time of year. Ever wonder how these festivities originated? Get ready to take a walk through holiday history.
Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus approximately 2,000 years ago. But
did you know that some Christmas traditions date back more than 4,000 years? Many have their roots in the Mesopotamian celebration of the
New Year and in the Roman celebration of Saturnalia. Learn about these, as
well as the religious roots of Christmas and the origins of Santa, Christmas
trees and stockings at Christmas on the Net.
For more information, visit the following sites:
Hanukkah, known as the Festival of Lights, celebrates the victory of the
Maccabees over King Antiochus of Syria, who wanted them to reject their religion and worship his
gods. After the victory, the Maccabees wanted to rededicate the Jerusalem Temple, but could
only find a tiny jug of oil, enough for a single day. They lit the lamp, and
the tiny amount of oil stayed lit for eight days.
You can learn more about the story, and about how
Hanukkah traditions such as the Dreidel developed at these sites:
The newest of the December celebrations, Kwanzaa was inspired by the civil
rights struggles of the 1960s and based on ancient African celebrations.
It was developed by Dr.
Maulana Karenga, an African-American scholar and activist, in 1966. Now more than 20 million
people celebrate all over the world. The celebration focuses on seven principles, known by
the Swahili phrase "Nguzo Saba." To learn more about the history of Kwanzaa and about how it is
celebrated, visit these sites:
Everything about Kwanzaa
Find a detailed description of Nguzo Saba (the seven guiding principles) and
suggestions for celebrating the Kwanzaa Feast of Karumu.
Click on each principle to read a definition. You'll find descriptions of ceremonial
accessories, suggestions for the Kwanzaa feast of Karamu and links to African facts,
music, and chats.
CNN - Kwanzaa Page
Read about the history of Kwanzaa and the rituals used to celebrate it.