Cultural Connections

Cultural Connections: Winter Holidays Around the World

By Liam Hunter and Addison Porter

December 3, 2021

There are many other holidays going on this winter other than Christmas and New Years Eve that you may not know about. Some are celebrated by different cultures, religions, or very diverse groups.

Hanukkah is are religious holiday celebrated by members of the Jewish faith.. Hanukkah isn’t the same week every year. This year it’s from November 28th to December 6th.  Hanukkah’s origin is from 139 BC when the Maccabees returned to Jerusalem to free it. In the temple a new menorah was made but there was only enough oil to light the candles for one day. The candles kept burning for eight days and it was considered a miracle. Ever since then, candles on Menorah have been lit for eight days and delicious food is made to commemorate this holiday.

Each night at sundown, families will gather together and light a new candle on the Menorah. The menorah has nine candles total. The ninth is called the Shamash. It is used to light the rest of the candles. They sing, open gifts and say a prayer. They will eat many different types of food that are fried in oil to symbolize the candles being lit for eight days. One of the most popular foods is Latke. Latke is Yiddish for pancake. It consists of batter made of shredded potatoes fried in oil. Another food made during Hanukkah is Kugel. It’s a sweet casserole dish made out of noodles, eggs, sugar, sour cream and cottage cheese.  

Another holiday that is not as well known is Chinese New Year. This year it starts on February 1st and ends on the 15th. It’s only a public holiday for the first 7 days. The date changes every year, but it always falls between January 21st and February 20th. The origin of this holiday is from a legend. The legend was that a monster would attack at the beginning of each new year. The monster didn’t like red, bright lights, or lots of noise, so to keep away this monster they made sure to do all of these things. During Chinese New Year, they celebrate new beginnings, luck and fortune, in the upcoming year. 

Those who celebrate Chinese New Year eat special food to bring certain things like happiness, wealth, and success. Those who eat fish are seeking an increase in success or looking to excel more than before. If you are eating Spring Rolls then you may be looking forward to some money or a sudden occurrence of wealth. A food you would eat if you want your family to be closer you would eat Sweet Rice Balls. 

On the last day of Chinese New Year, there is a lantern festival. People go outdoors or in a natural area and enjoy a nice meal with their family as they watch the lanterns in the sky go by and see the bright lights. 

There are so many different holidays you may not know about. If you see someone who is celebrating something different, learn and explore what that is. Always remember to stay curious when hearing new things about people.

Cultural Connections: The Holiday of Eid al-Adha 

BY ELLIE COLEMAN AND ANDREW RUSSEL

October 15, 2021

When someone mentions summer holidays, the main thing people think about is the Fourth of July. Many people don’t realize it, but almost every day is some sort of holiday. One of the more important holidays that many people don’t know is called Eid al- Adha. 

Eid al-Adha always falls on the tenth day of Dhu al- Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Islamic Hijri, the Muslim calendar. This holiday centers around prayer and animal sacrifices. It is known as the Festival of Sacrifices. The goal is so that all Muslims can eat meat.

Eid al-Adha requires a crescent moon to start the festival. On July 9, 2021 people searched the skies for the crescent moon, but to no avail. On the 19th they searched again, but there was still no sign. Because of this Saudi Arabia declared that the festival should start on the 20th. It’s no easy feat to figure out when exactly it will appear. However, even with the global pandemic, over 1.6 billion Muslims celebrated the holiday.

This holiday is celebrated as a remembrance of Ibrahim’s sacrifice. Ibrahim was a man who is said to have lived a long time ago. According to the Muslim faith, he had a son named Ismail. When his son was still young, Allah, the one true God to Muslims, told Ibrahim to sacrifice Ismail as a test to see if Ibrahim was committed to Allah. Just as Ibrahim was about to sacrifice Ismail, Allah spoke and instructed him to not kill the boy, but to sacrifice an animal instead. 

 Eid al- Adha is one of the most important holidays for Muslims. During this holiday they are able to see their family. When they come together they share food and give gifts to each other. They begin the festival by praying. Following this, the family will sacrifice an animal, giving some to the poor. Once finished with this, they are able to gather with friends and family, eat a festive meal, and give gifts. 

Every holiday has a special kind of food, like turkey for Thanksgiving. The traditional food for Eid al- Adha is usually sheep or goat meat. They slaughter a sheep or goat, making sure that it is not disfigured or unacceptable in any way. This is done as a symbol of the sacrifice Ibrahim made to Allah. They take the meat and put it into three groups: for home, for family, friends, or neighbors, and for the poor. Other dishes that they have are sweets and many things with lamb and mutton, not just plain meat. They drink coffee and eat crumpets and sheer khurma, a dish similar to curry. 

There are so many interesting things to learn about Eid al-Adha, and it is only one holiday. There are many more holidays during this time that many may not be aware of. Try to learn more about other cultures and what they celebrate.