Here in Canada, the winter holiday most widely celebrated is Christmas. Although Canada prides itself on having no national religion and supporting religious freedom, 67% of Canadians identify as Christian. While religion has a large impact on the type of holiday that is celebrated in your home and with your family, it is also culture and heritage that play a large role in these celebrations as well. Canadians celebrate diversity and support everyone as they celebrate their special holidays. There are so many celebrations that take place throughout the winter months across the world. Whether you are looking for a new way to celebrate or interesting in learning about your neighbour or friend’s unique celebrations, here is a limited list of some of the bigger holiday celebrations that take place during the Holiday seasons.
When – Chanukah takes place over an 8 day period beginning on the eve of Kislev 25. This date changes but generally comes in December.
Why – Chanukah is known as the festival of lights. It celebrates the rededication of the Temple to the Jewish faith and G-d by Judah the Maccabee after he defeated the Greek army and sent them away from Jerusalem. When Judah the Maccabee and his army went t0 light the menorah, they found that there was only one cruse of olive oil left, and miraculously, this single cruse lasted for 8 days and nights.
Who – Chanukah is celebrated by those who identify as Jewish.
Food – Traditional Chanukah food consists of potato latkes, fried foods (to pay homage to the oil in the menorah) and food that is heavy in cheese. A traditional main course is Brisket.
Traditions – Perhaps the best-known tradition of Chanukah is the nightly lighting of the menorah. In addition to this, Jews will sing traditional songs, recite the Hallel prayer daily, and exchange gifts during the 8 nights of the holiday.
St Lucia Day
When – St Lucia Day takes place on December 13th each year.
Why – The holiday celebrated to remember Saint Lucia, a saint who risked her life to give foot and support to Christians hiding in exile during the Diolectonic Persecution of the 3rd Century. Remember the Saint Lucia, a saint who game food and support to
Who – St Lucia Day is a Christian holiday that is primarily celebrated by folks from Scandinavian decent and Italians.
Food – Traditional foods are eaten during St. Lucia Day centre on breakfast and include Lussekatter (saffron buns) and Pepperkatter (gingerbread cookies) and coffee or hot chocolate.
Traditions – The morning of St Lucia Day, the eldest daughter of the family will wear a dress of white with a red sash and wreath of candles seven candles. The white represents the purity of St. Lucia. The red sash is a symbol of the blood she shed to save the Christians. In her costume that symbolizes St. Lucia, she will deliver homemade treats with coffee and hot cocoa to each family member while she sings songs.
When – Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26 to January 1st. December 26 – Jan 1
Why – Kwanzaa was started in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga as a response to the commercialism of Christmas and as a celebration of cultural affirmation for African Americans.
Who – African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa.
Food – During the Kwanzaa celebration, various cuisines from African countries and familiar foods of the African diaspora are common celebratory items.
Traditions – The holiday centres around the five values of ingathering, reverence, commemorating, recommitment, and celebration and the 7 principles, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. A candle for each principle is lit and families gather and exchange gifts on December 31st.
Chinese New Year
When –Because the Chinese New Year is based on the moon, the dates change each year. The celebration starts on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month and ends on the 15th day of the first lunar month in the following year. In general, it falls between January and February.
Who – The Chinese New Year is celebrated by individuals of Chinese descent.
Food – the Chinese emphasis luck and prosperity during the New Year and they eat foods that they hope will harken in good luck and an increased in wealth, prosperity and happiness during the New Year. Some of these foods include noodles for happiness and longevity, dumplings and spring rolls to represent wealth, fish for increased prosperity and traditional Chinese dishes including Tangyuan as a symbol for family and togetherness and Niangao what will hopefully bring a higher income or status in the New Year.
Traditions – During the New Year celebrations, families will attend many parades and performances, fireworks will be set off to scare away evil spirits and adults might give children money in red envelopes. The New Year celebration ends on the final day of the Lantern Festival.
Regardless of which holiday you celebrate, enjoy this holiday season surrounded by friends and family.