Words by Desiree Maas - @desireemaas
The holiday season is a time when memories are made, rich traditions are followed and family gathers together to celebrate the warmth that the holiday season brings. Cultures all around the world celebrate with unique traditions that have been established in their homes and countries for generations. Though some may seem foreign to you, we want to share a few with you and maybe you will bring a piece of the world into your home and enrich your holiday traditions this year.
In Israel, Hanukkah is the most celebrated holiday in month of December by the Jewish people. With changing dates every year, this eight-day celebration marks the achievement of the Jewish rebellion over the Greeks. The menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum, is the primary focus during this event. Each night leading up to the final night, one candle is lit; a single gift is given to the children and traditional foods are eaten. It is a beautiful tradition that families eagerly await to celebrate.
Americans celebrates Christmas by bringing pine trees into their homes and decorating it in late November with lights, ornaments, and candy canes. The presents are placed under the tree and stocking are hung above the fireplace On Christmas day the families wake up early and open gifts together and share in a large feast with family and friends.
Omisoka is celebrated on the last day of the year in Japan. The Japanese symbolize this holiday as a chance to start the New Year a fresh, as many clean their homes. A massive feast is prepared and shared with family and friends at 11pm and at midnight they welcome in the New Year by ringing a cast bell.
Noel is what Christmas is called in France. There are a few similarities to Christmas in America, but in France they truly make it their own. Pere Noel, father of Christmas, is a famous figure in the homes in France and the legend is that he brings gifts to each home on Christmas Eve. Before bed, the children leave their shoes by the fireplace to be filled with gifts. On Christmas day they next morning, they awake to find fruits, nuts and small toys in their shoes. The Nativity is displayed in nearly every home, similar to the tree in homes in the America.
Ireland celebrates St. Stephen’s Day, which has more of a religious theme compared to the events in other countries that we have mentioned. This holiday is celebrated from December 26th to January 6th (know as Epiphany). The 26th is St. Stephen’s Day in Ireland, which is when the traditional Wren Boys Procession happens. Children travel from door to door with a long stick that is topped with holly and a wren as they sing. On behalf of the “starving wren”, the children ask each home for money and put it in their pockets.
Traditions are a beautiful reason to bring loved ones close and celebrate the history of who you are and why we celebrate. Please share some of your traditions with us, we would love to bring your stories into our homes. Happy Holidays!
For the dreamer - For the adventurer