Kwanzaa and Hanukkah are two holidays celebrated by different ethnicities and cultures, but there are distinct differences between them. Both holidays have deep cultural traditions and meanings, so it can be helpful to understand what sets Kwanzaa and Hanukkah apart.
Origin of Kwanzaa and Hanukkah
Kwanzaa is a holiday created in 1966 in the United States that is based on different African harvest festivals. Its purpose is to bring people of African descent together for a collective celebration. It lasts from December 26 - January 1 and is also a time to reflect on and celebrate African culture and values. Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday that commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 165 BC. It is known as the Festival of Lights and usually falls between December and January.
Symbols of Kwanzaa and Hanukkah
Kwanzaa has 7 Principles associated with it, also known as the Nguzo Saba: Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith. There are also 7 symbols that help to celebrate Kwanzaa: the mkeka (mat), kinara (candle holder), muhindi (ears of corn), kikombe cha umoja (unity cup), zawadi (gifts), mishumaa saba (seven candles), and the libations. Hanukkah has two common symbols that represent it: the Menorah and the dreidel. The Menorah is a nine-branched candelabrum that holds nine candles. One of the candles is the Shamash (servant candle used to light the other candles). The dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with Hebrew letters on each side that stands for the phrase, “A great miracle happened there.”
Activities During Kwanzaa and Hanukkah
Kwanzaa is celebrated with activities such as gift-giving, music, poetry, storytelling, and feasting. On each day of Kwanzaa, families get together, light the seven candles, recite the seven principles, and finally, exchange gifts. Hanukkah activities include lighting the Menorah each night, playing the dreidel game, eating traditional foods such as latkes, and exchanging gifts.
Although both Kwanzaa and Hanukkah are celebrated around the same time, they have different origins. Kwanzaa has seven principles and seven symbols while Hanukkah has two symbols, the Menorah and the dreidel. Furthermore, the activities people take part in during Kwanzaa and Hanukkah are quite different. Both holidays are an important part of our cultural tapestry and are worth learning about and celebrating.
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Last update 2023-11-22. Price and product availability may change.