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by Frank Shortt
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For every event in History, men have set aside certain days to celebrate. The greatest event any of us can celebrate was the day that we realized that it makes no difference how others celebrate their events. If the right Spirit is in our hearts, we can tolerate others’ ideas for the length of time it takes them to celebrate, as long as they do the celebrating without encroaching upon other people’s rights.
During the winter, there are countless festivals that people seem to enjoy. The most celebrated event is Christmas. Christmas is supposedly a Christian Holiday, set aside by man to remember the Christ Child. It is very evident that more than one religion celebrates the Yule season as countless shoppers walk over each other, stand in ultra- long lines to pay, rushing home with their treasures! Shoppers may be seen from every creed, nationality, and who knows what!
Hanukkah is the time set aside by the Jewish community to celebrate an ancient miracle in which a candleholder lasted eight days in their temple. The menorah is a symbol of this ancient tradition. This is the time when Jews eat latkes, sing songs, and spin a dreidel, which is a kind of top in order for children to win chocolate coins, nuts, or boxes of raisins.
Sweden celebrates St. Lucia Day on December 13. This is the time when many girls dress up as “Lucia Brides” in long white gowns with red sashes. On their heads is a wreath of burning candles. Many families, on this day, are suddenly awakened by the singing of songs when the girls bring them coffee and saffron buns. No harm done!
Kwanzaa, which means “First Fruits” is celebrated by reminding each participating family about family life and unity. Based upon an ancient African harvest festival, celebrated from December 26-January 1, the millions of African Americans who choose to celebrate, dress up in special clothes, decorate homes with the bountiful harvest of the region, and the symbol that each is participating is the lighting of a candle called a kinara.
An interesting event that most of us have not heard about is the Ecuadorian New Year. Whereas in America, men wait for the ball to drop in Times Square, in Ecuador families build a straw man, dressing him in old clothes on December 31. This old straw man represents the past year. The participants make a will for the straw man that lists all their faults. In order to make their faults disappear, they burn the old straw man at midnight and their faults go up in smoke! Sounds easy doesn’t it? At midnight in America can be heard the clink of millions of glasses full of bubbly, each celebrant wishing the other a Happy New Year ahead.
Lunar New Year varies from calendar to calendar. In countries that celebrate according to the Lunar calendar, the event can be in either January, February, March, April, September, or November, depending on the lunar calendar used. Lunar New Year is mainly remembered in America by the setting off of fireworks, exchanging of red envelopes containing money, playing of games, eating traditional foods, cleaning the house, and holding extravagant parades with colorful costumes placing emphasis on the dragon!
Shrove Tuesday is what it is called in England when women run a race, all the while flipping a pancake. The rest of the world that celebrates this time calls it Mardi Gras. Time of Lent is a solemn time for most Catholics, and some other Protestant denominations. The Tuesday before Lent begins is a time when frolicking and feasting begins. New Orleans has a great parade consisting of people wearing all types of, sometimes outrageous, costumes. Brazil follows suit by imitating New Orleans.
Some holidays are used to distinguish one group from the other. Nonetheless, other groups join in only for the camaraderie and festivities. Let’s remember that these days are set aside by mankind to remember their gods or goddesses. After all, most of us get a day off, maybe more, from work and toil, in order to rest. Sometimes the festivities are so that the celebrating causes more stress and illness than the work we do each day!
Have a safe Holiday Season!