Holidays Around the World

We tend to think of winter as a time of rest, hibernation, and quiet. But a look at the calendar reveals many holidays around the world that prove this impression entirely wrong. The cold months are clearly a popular time for parties and celebrations. While some are filled with solemn tradition, others focus on fun and frolic. All pose opportunities for interesting and real-life lessons in geography, culture, history, and religion.

Take a look at this list of several popular traditions celebrated during winter holidays around the world and share them with your kids. We hope they inspire further discussion and learning with some related activities. Enjoy the tour:

Hanukkah
For eight days each November or December, Jews light a special candle holder called a menorah. They do it to remember an ancient miracle in which one day’s worth of oil burned for eight days in the temple. During Hanukkah, many Jews also eat special potato pancakes called latkes, sing songs, and spin a top called a dreidel to win chocolate coins, nuts, or raisins.

Three Kings Day
At the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas comes a day called the Epiphany, or Three Kings Day. This holiday is celebrated as the day the three wise men first saw baby Jesus and brought him gifts. On this day in Spain, many children get their Christmas presents. In Puerto Rico, before children go to sleep on January 5, they leave a box with hay under their beds so the kings will leave good presents. In France, a delicious King cake is baked. Bakers will hide a coin, jewel, or little toy inside.

Winter Solstice
The Winter Solstice occurs around December 21. It is the shortest day of the year. People all over the world participate in festivals and celebrations. Long ago, people celebrated by lighting bonfires and candles to coax back the sun.

St. Lucia Day
To honor this third-century saint on December 13, many girls in Sweden dress up as “Lucia brides” in long white gowns with red sashes, and a wreath of burning candles on their heads. They wake up their families by singing songs and bringing them coffee and twisted saffron buns called “Lucia cats.”

St. Nicholas Day
A popular December holiday in many European countries, St. Nicholas Day, celebrates St. Nicholas of Myra, the man whose life inspired the tradition of Santa Claus and Father Christmas. He gave all of his money to the needy and was known for his compassion for children and all those in need. The holiday honors the man on the anniversary of his death, December 6, 343 A.D. Many celebrate with parades, feasts, gift giving, and festivals.

Christmas
People celebrate this Christian holiday by going to church, giving gifts, and sharing the day with their families. In some parts of Europe, “star singers” go caroling—singing special Christmas songs—as they walk behind a huge star on a pole.

The Christmas festivities in Ireland tend to be more religious in nature rather than being about gifts. Christmas celebrations last from Christmas Eve until January 6 (Epiphany). On December 26, known as St. Stephen’s Day, an Irish tradition that is known as the Wren Boys Procession takes place. Children go from door to door singing, holding a stick that is topped by a holly bush and a wren. They ask for money for the “starving wren,” which goes into their pockets. In ancient times, a real wren was killed and fastened to the stick, but today fake wrens are used.

The Christmas Eve festivities in the Ukraine are known as Sviata Vechera, which means “Holy Supper.” The celebration begins when the first evening star is sighted in the night sky. In farming communities, the household head brings in a sheaf of wheat, which symbolizes the wheat crops of Ukraine. It is called “didukh,” which translates to “grandfather spirit.” In homes within the city, a few stalks of wheat may be used to decorate the table.

Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa, which means “First Fruits,” is based on ancient African harvest festivals and celebrates ideals such as family life and unity. During this spiritual holiday, celebrated from December 26 to January 1, millions of African Americans dress in special clothes, decorate their homes with fruits and vegetables, and light a candle holder called a kinara.

New Year
In Ecuador, families dress a straw man in old clothes on December 31. The straw man represents the old year. The family members make a will for the straw man that lists all of their faults. At midnight, they burn the straw man, in hopes that their faults will disappear with him.

In Japan, Omisoka (or New Year’s Eve) is the second most important holiday of the year, following New Year’s Day, the start of a new beginning. Japanese families gather for a late dinner around 11 PM, and at midnight, many make visits to a shrine or temple. In many homes, there is a cast bell that is struck 108 times, symbolizing desires believed to cause human suffering.

Those in Hong Kong pray to the gods and ghosts of their ancestors, asking that they will fulfill wishes for the next year. Priests read aloud the names of every living person at the celebration and attach a list of the names to a paper horse and set it on fire. The smoke carries the names up to the gods and the living will be remembered.

To celebrate the Chinese New Year, many children dress in new clothes to celebrate and people carry lanterns and join in a huge parade led by a silk dragon, the Chinese symbol of strength. According to legend, the dragon hibernates most of the year, so people throw firecrackers to keep the dragon awake.

Mardi Gras
The time of Lent is a solemn one of reflection for Christians, so the Tuesday before Lent begins is a time of merry-making for many people around the world. In New Orleans, people wear costumes and attend huge parades for the festival of Mardi Gras. Brazil’s Carnaval also features parades, costumes, and music. This day is also known as Shrove Tuesday. In England, some towns have pancake contests in which women run a race while flipping a pancake at least three times. Mardi Gras usually occurs in February or March, 47 days prior to Easter.

Thank you for reading 🙂

2 Comments

Categories: Did You Know?

Tags:

Keto Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients You Need :

  • 1 ½ cup Heavy whipping cream.
  • 1/3 cup Cocoa powder.
  • 2 tbsp Sweetener of choice ( Stevia or Swerve ).
  • Dark Chocolate Chunks.

Report this ad

Step-By-Step Instructions :

1. Gather all the Ingredients.

Keto-Chocolate-Mousse-Step-1-Ingredients

Report this ad

2. With a hand mixer or stand mixer, whip heavy whipping cream with a whisk on medium speed.

Keto-Chocolate-Mousse-Step-2-Whip-Cream

Report this ad

3. Once it thickens, add sweetener and cocoa powder.

Keto-Chocolate-Mousse-Step-3-Cocoa-Powder

4. Whisk again until stiff peaks form. Add almond extract if desired and whisk one last time.Report this ad

Keto-Chocolate-Mousse-Step-4-Mixture

5. Add to a piping bag and pipe into glass of choice. Serve with extra dark chocolate!

Keto-Chocolate-Mousse-Ready

Thank you for reading 🙂

No Comments

Categories: Recipes

Tags:

What is Kwanzaa?

History of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a holiday tradition that is based on the “first harvest” celebrations in Africa. In recorded history, these first harvest celebrations can be traced all the way back to Nubia and Egypt and can be found in cultures all over Africa. While many of these first-fruit celebrations may differ from one society to another, they all had a few principles in common. These principles include people gathering together to celebrate, acknowledging the creator and thanking him for his blessings. a commemoration of the past, a re-commitment to African cultural thought and a time to celebrate community.

Rooted in these principles, especially those of the Ashanti and the Zulu, Kwanzaa arose from the Black Freedom Movement in 1966 in the United States. It was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga – a professor of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, USA. He created it after the Watts riots as a way to bring African-Americans together as a community.  He gave it the name Kwanzaa -a word that is taken from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” and is Swahili for “first-fruits.”

Kwanzaa was originally envisioned by Dr. Maulana Karenga as an oppositional alternative to Christmas. However, in later years he changed his position as to not alienate African-American Christians and later stated that Kwanzaa was not created to give people an alternative to their own religious holidays.

From 1966 through the end of the 20th century, the idea and practice of Kwanzaa began to slowly increase in popularity across the United States. Then its popularity began to increase dramatically after the start of the 21st century as the idea and practices of this holiday began to not only spread through conventional media but also through the Internet.  In 2004, a study showed that a little less than 5 million African-Americans planned to celebrate the holiday that year. However, two years later, another study showed that almost 28 million African-Americans had planned on celebrating the holiday in 2006. In 2009, the popularity of Kwanzaa was further bolstered by the release of the documentary film about Kwanzaa called the “Black Candle,” a film narrated by Maya Angelou and directed by M. K. Asante. Since then, Kwanzaa has not only spread all across North American but also parts of Europe and Africa as well.

Kwanzaa Customs & Celebrations

Kwanzaa celebrations vary from family to family. Some families stick with strictly Kwanzaa related practices, while other families mix elements of Kwanzaa into their Christmas celebrations. However, most Kwanzaa celebrations are based on Nguzo Saba – or the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

The Seven Principles:

  • Umoja (Unity): Striving for and maintaining unity in the family and the community.
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): Defining oneself and speaking for oneself
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): Building and maintaining a community and making our brother’s and sister’s problems our own and solve them together
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): Building and maintaining our businesses for ourselves and each other
  • Nia (Purpose): To build and develop our collective communities together
  • Kuumba (Creativity): To do whatever we can to leave our communities more beautiful than when we inherited them
  • Imani (Faith): To believe with our hearts in our people, our families and the righteousness of our struggle

The Seven Symbols:

Kwanzaa celebrations usually include a special mat called a Mkeka in which all of the other symbols are placed. On this mate are placed a candle holder called a Kinara, seven candles which are collectively called Mishumaa Saba, mazao (fruits, nuts and vegetables), a unity cup called Kikombe cha Umoja, an ear of corn called Vibunzi and Zawadi or gifts.

Mkeka
The place mat, or Mkeka, is traditionally made from either straw or cloth. It symbolizes African history, tradition and culture.  All of the other six elements are placed on the Mkeka.

Mazao
Fruits, nuts and vegetables are laid out to represent the historical foundation for this holiday – the gathering of people after a harvest. It represents bounty, joy, sharing and allows people to give thanks for their gifts.

Kinara
The Kinara, or candle holder, can be made of any material but is usually handcrafted from wood or other natural materials. This candle holder represents the ancestors and the mishumaa saba are placed in them to represent the principles of Kwanzaa – which rise from the ancestors.

The Mishumaa Saba
Mishumaa saba features seven candles. Three of them are red, three of them are green and one of them is black. The three red candles represent the principles of Ujamaa, Kuumba and Kujichagulia, and they are placed to the left of the green candles. The three green candles represent the principles of Ujima, Imani and Nia. The black candle symbolizes Umoja and is lit on December 26th.

Kikombe Cha Umoja
Kikombe cha umoja is a unity cup that is traditionally used to perform the ceremonious libation ritual, otherwise known as tambiko. This ritual is performed on the 6th day of Kwanzaa. In some African societies, the libation is poured for the living dead whose souls stay connected with the earth until it is tilled. During the Feast of Karamu, this unity cup is passed to family members and guests–all of whom drink from it to promote unity with one another. The next thing that happens is the eldest person pours a libation for the four winds (north, south, east and west). This last portion of the libation is reserved for the ancestors.

Vibunzi & Mihindi
Vibunzi is an ear of corn that is used to represent fertility. Vibunzi refers to one ear of corn. If more than one is present, then they are referred to as Mihindi. An ear is present for each child in the family. This is to show the importance of children to society and how they are the seed bearers of the culture into this future.

Zawadi
On the seventh day, gifts are exchanged with immediate family to reward accomplishments and commitments and is also exchanged with guests. It is recommended that these gifts are handmade to promote self-determination and to avoid the commercialism of the Christmas season. Accepting a gift makes the receiver an important part of the family and promotes the principle of Umoja – otherwise known as unity.

Where is Kwanzaa celebrated?

🇺🇸

Thank you for reading 🙂

No Comments

Categories: Did You Know?

Tags:

Healthy Chocolate Pudding

Healthy Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk of choice OR canned coconut milk
  • heaping 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • uncut stevia to taste OR 1/3 cup sugar, pure maple syrup, or honey
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice + 3 tbsp cornstarch (I use non-GMO cornstarch) – Readers reported success with arrowroot, although I have not tried
  • optional 3.5 oz chocolate chips or broken-up bar
  • 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Healthy Chocolate Pudding Recipe: Heat the 2 cups milk of choice in a saucepan with the salt, cocoa powder, and sweetener. Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch and 1/2 cup milk in a small bowl until dissolved. When the 2 cups milk are warm, add the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir constantly for 2 minutes. Lower to a simmer for an additional minute, then turn off the heat. Once the heat is off, stir in the vanilla and broken-up chocolate pieces until the chocolate melts. Transfer the pudding to the refrigerator to thicken. It gets thicker the longer it sits and will be ready to consume after a few hours or overnight.  *Note: I’ve only tried this recipe with Dutch cocoa powder so can’t vouch for the taste if regular unsweetened cocoa powder is used in its place. But you are always free to experiment!

Thank you for reading 🙂

2 Comments

Categories: Recipes

Tags:

x
error: Content is protected !!
Mws R Writings
%d bloggers like this: