In my sphere, and at my age, my friends and acquaintances come from a multitude of backgrounds, and have varied traditions for the Holidays, Christmas and Hanukkah, which are both celebrated in December.
A third, called Kwanzaa, which is a week-long celebration, was started in 1966 within the African American community. It combined aspects of several different African harvest celebrations and includes singing, dancing, storytelling and of course, a large traditional meal.
For many, Christmas is a religious holiday, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, although scholars have concluded that Christ could not have been born on December 25th—it was during a warmer time of year—it was in the fourth century that that date was chosen to commemorate the event, probably as an outgrowth of historical pagan celebrations at that time of year.
Christmas also means gifts under the tree, lights in the windows, cards in the mail, turkey dinners with family and friends, snow in the yard, stockings hanging in the living room, and Santa Claus, that mythical figure from the North Pole who is the delight of children (me, too).
Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. It is an eight-day event commemorating the rededication of a Temple in Jerusalem. The story of Hanukkah is that, after reclaiming the Temple, the people went to light the eternal flame of the Menorah. By religious tradition this flame could only be lit with specially prepared pure olive oil. The amount of oil remaining in the only uncontaminated flask was just enough to burn for one day, and it would take eight days to produce a new batch of pure oil. They lit the flame, and, miraculously, it burned for eight days. That’s why Hanukkah, also spelled Chanukah, lasts eight nights.
For me, I simply love the feeling of love and togetherness that permeates at this time of year, and I send my heartfelt best wishes to you for Joy and Peace, and certainly a healthy life steeped in ageless beauty.