Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are two special celebrations that commemorate two of the major religions around the world. Both involve traditions, ceremonies, and ideologies that are unique and rooted in history. Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday that celebrates the rededication of the Jewish Temple, as told in the Bible. Kwanzaa is a seven-day African-American holiday that focuses on reconnecting with African roots, values, and culture.
Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, which usually corresponds with late November or December. It celebrates the miracle of the oil that kept the temple’s menorah burning for eight days, even though there was only enough oil for one day. Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights. Traditionally, friends and family gather to light the menorah, or Hanukkiah, which has nine branches. One candle is lit each night, starting with the shamash or “servant” candle. Traditional foods include latkes, or potato pancakes, and sufganiyot, or jelly-filled donuts. The common greeting for Hanukkah is, “Chag sameach,” which translates to “happy holiday.”
Kwanzaa begins on December 26th and ends on January 1st. It was founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga as a celebration of African heritage and identity. Kwanzaa is an African term meaning first fruits of the harvest. Traditional colors for Kwanzaa are red, black, and green. These colors represent the blood shed by African heroes, the people, and the hope of a brighter future. The Kinara, or candleholder, has seven candles, representing the Nguzo Saba, or seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Kwanzaa traditions also include activities such as feasts, remembering African ancestors, telling stories, and exchanging gifts.
Both Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are special celebrations that honor the culture and beliefs of two distinct and powerful religious groups. The traditions, ceremonies, and symbols associated with each holiday illustrate the beauty and power of faith. Whether celebrating with friends and family or observing in a more personal way, both Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are important reminders of the power that comes from staying true to our roots.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.