Different traditions, customs make holiday season

December 19, 2013 2:45:02 PM PST
Tradition is a key component to the holiday season. Some families gather around the Christmas tree to open presents, or come together to light the menorah candles during Hanukkah, while others discuss the seven principles during Kwanzaa and much, much more. That's what makes the holiday season so unique and special: each culture has its own customs.Celebrated by Christians, Catholics, Latterday Saints(Mormons), Baptists, Lutherans and non-practicing Christians, Christmas is surrounded by rich traditions. Gift-giving is on the top for many, according to Sarah Dowdey, a Contributing Editor for howstuffworks.com. She says whether people care to admit it or not, Christmas is about presents. Adults stockpile on-sale gifts and children nearly burst in anticipation of Christmas morning.

Attending mass, watching movies, putting up and decorating Christmas trees, candy canes and Christmas cards are also popular traditions.

"A Christmas tree decorating party is always a great idea for holiday fun," says Robin Bickerstaff Glover, a writer for About.com Etiquette. "Invite each guest to bring along a unique ornament and have fun with music and a light fare as you trim the Christmas evergreen."

And let's not forget about those mouth-watering Christmas dishes. Here are a few Christmas recipes from livewellnetwork.com:

  • Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cakes in a Jar
  • Seven Day Fruitcake
  • Mexican-Influenced Roast Leg of Lamb
  • Individual Smoked Salmon Terrines

    Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BCE. Jews celebrate by lighting a candle each night on the nine-branched menorah. Other Hanukkah customs include playing with four-sided spinning tops called dreidels and exchanging gifts. It is customary to give Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins) as small gifts.

    Classic Hanukkah dishes include cripsy potato pancakes with applesauce and sour cream called latkes, sufganiyot (jelly-filled donuts) topped with powdered sugar and donuts called bunuelos (or bimuelos), which are traditionally dipped in honey.

    Kwanzaa, an African-American and Pan-African seven night holiday, celebrates family, community and culture. Each night a candle-lighting ceremony is held to gather and discuss the seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

    Celebrations include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading and a large traditional meal.

    A Karamu or African Feast is held on the last day of Kwanzaa.Traditional African dishes include:

  • Koki, an appetizer made from black-eyed peas
  • Peanut Soup, a pan-African and African-American favorite
  • Jollof Rice, a main dish that Maya Angelou reports was "a smashing success"
  • Okra & Greens, a traditional African dish for a side
  • Chinua Achebe calls Yam "the king of crops"; (or serve their American relation, sweet potatoes)
  • a "first fruits" dessert course, Fruit Salad or Coconut Pie (See Dessert in Africa)
  • beverages: Green Tea with Mint (iced, if you like), Ginger Beer

    It's no wonder why people look forward to the holidays. A variety of traditions is a beautiful thing!