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December is a month of holidays

by JoEtta Brown

December, the month of snow and ice, has the shortest day and the longest night in the year, and two beautiful religious holidays – Christmas and Hanukkah, the Feast of Lights. Also the celebration of Kwanzaa begins from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, Kwanzaa is a time of fasting, of feasting and of self-examination. Despite the gloom, the icy streets and the early dusk, these holidays make December a joyous time of year.

A little bit about Christmas – no one is certain why Dec. 25 was chosen. There is nothing in the New Testament to indicate that this is the date of the Nativity. It is believed that the efforts of early churchmen in Rome to change pagan customs into Christian rites led in the fourth century A.D., to the adoption of Dec. 25 as the date of the Christ Mass, or feast, in honor of the birth of Christ. This day was probably chosen because, according to the calendar then in use, Dec. 25 was also the winter solstice.

The traditions of Christmas are; the manager, Christmas trees, carols, holly, mistletoe, poinsettia, gifts, family gatherings, Christmas cards and of course, Santa Claus. All of these traditions are from other countries brought to America and became part of our culture. Let’s not forget the wonderful kinds of food we will eat as we celebrate Christmas with friends and family. Did you know that eating mince pie will bring you good luck?

Hanukkah is a Jewish religious festival of great joy. It celebrates two important events in the history of Judaism. These events were the amazing victory of the Jews over King Antiochus and his Syrian armies, and the rededication in 165 B.C. of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to its original use – the worship of God. The menorah, or eight-branched candlestick recalls the rededication of the sacred temple. Each night one of the candles are lighted, special prayers are said and songs are sung. All these ceremonies thank God for the victory that marked the right of men to worship their God in accordance with the voice of their conscience.

A historical event occurred Dec. 25, 1776. Washington crossed the Delaware River at Trenton, N.J. Famous birthdays that occurred on Dec. 25 are: Sir Isaac Newton, the English mathematician who discovered the law of gravity in 1642 and Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross in 1821.

When I celebrate Christmas, setting aside the commercialism, I remember these lines from One Solitary Life: “Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind’s progress. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that “one solitary life,” the birth of Christ. Merry Christmas to you and your families.