Winter is a Time to Celebrate

Christmas and Hanukkah are major holidays in the United States but they are certainly not the only celebrations that appear on calendars during the winter months. Christians prepare for Christmas by observing Advent beginning on December 1st and many continue the Christmas tradition for the twelve days of Christmas or Epiphany. This ends on January 6 and signifies the arrival of the Three Wise Men at the birthplace of Jesus. Other Christian holidays that are observed in winter are Candlemas on February 2 and Saint Valentine’s Day on February 14.
Hanukkah, also known as the Jewish Festival of Lights lasts eight days and can take place in late November through December, depending on the calendar. Other winter Jewish holidays include Tu Bishvat or New Year of the Trees in January or February and Purim in late February or March.
There are other celebrations in winter that are not specifically religious in nature. Kwanzaa is a celebration of family and African culture that is primarily observed in the United States. First celebrated in 1966, Kwanzaa begins on December 26 and lasts for six days. Boxing Day is a bank holiday that is observed on December 26 or the first Monday after Christmas in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and other countries. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day mark the end and beginning respectively of the calendar year and is celebrated world wide. Yule is the non-religious observation of December 25 and Saturnalia is the Roman festival that marks the winter solstice when the earth is tilted the furtherest away from the sun in the Northern Hemisphere usually December 21 or 22. It is considered a pagan holiday and it is thought that the observation of Christmas was chosen to be December 25 to neutralize the celebrations of Saturnalia.
New Year’s Day does not mark the end of winter celebrations. Martin Luther King Jr. day falls on the third Monday in January and Groundhog Day starts off February with a bang on the 2nd. President’s Day is always the third Monday in February and St. Patrick’s day finishes up the winter holidays on March 17. If you can’t get enough of the winter celebrations, head to South America in June. Winter begins there on the 21st or 22nd.

About Pam Linkous

Editor of my high school newspaper back when papers were carved into stone tablets and delivered by oxen, I now spend my days unraveling the mysteries of Blackboard (like, you mean my instructor has my paper NOW...I just accidently pressed enter....oh noooooo) and trying to understand how textbooks today cost more than tuition did when I went to college the first time. Despite needing several more hours per day to get everything done (who do I e-mail, Facebook, blog about that?), I still love to write and am willing to take on assignments that do not require staying up past my bedtime.
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