Winter Holidays Make Us Merry

BY FATIHA AMARIR

(FROM ARNIC Observer_Vol 1_Issue 2)

IT IS TAKEN FOR GRANTED that each country has its own culture, traditions and holidays, whether these holidays are national or religious ones, yet each society celebrates them in their own way. However, in the United States, a melting pot society where people from different nations and races meet, immigrants may celebrate their own holidays in addition to those of other cultures.

During the winter many holidays take place and some of them are religious, such as Ashura for Muslims, Hanukkah for Jews, and Christmas for Christians, and not to mention Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

To start with, and in chronological order, Ashura was observed on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar which fell on November 14 this year. People on
this day fast from sunrise to sunset, visit each other, and prepare special dishes such as couscous and dried fruit, and they buy new clothes and games for the children. Fasting on this day is optional, not like Ramadan, when it is compulsory.

Muslims fast because it was recommended by the prophet Muhammad, who went to Medina and found the Jews fasting on this day. When he asked about the
significance of this, they told him that “This is a good day, the day on which God rescued the children of Israel from their enemy Pharaoh by creating a path in the Red Sea.” So Moses fasted this day to thank God for rescuing them, and now Muslims fast for two days, while the Jewish people fast for one.

xmas tree_croppedThis year, Hanukkah fell on Wednesday, November 27. Celebrated by the Jewish community, it began at sunset on that Wednesday and ended in the evening of Thursday, December 5. Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights. It commemorates the victory of the Israelites over the Syrian Greek armies, and the miracle of restoring the menorah in the Holy Temple. Only one vial of oil was found in the temple and was enough for only one day–and yet miracle of miracles, it lasted for eight days. Jews celebrate Hanukkah at home by lighting the menorah each night, playing with a dreidel, and eating special foods such as latkes, potato pancakes fried in oil. Some people also sing Hanukkah songs and exchange gifts.

Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November. It has been an annual tradition since 1863. Families and friends typically feast on roasted turkey, a featured item on any Thanksgiving table. The day is sometimes referred to as “Turkey Day.”
The traditional meal often includes stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, and pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving Day is a time for many people to give thanks for what they have.

Christmas Day occurs on December 25. It celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. On this day or even weeks before, people decorate their homes and gardens with lights and evergreens, put up Christmas trees and much more. They also cook delicious and festive foods such as baked ham and eggnog, exchange gifts among themselves, and children receive a lot of gifts from a character named Santa Claus.

On New Years Eve, December 31, many people organize parties at home or attend special celebrations to celebrate the New Year. A particularly striking aspect of the
New Year festivities is the ball drop in Times Square in Manhattan. The ball is made of crystal and electric lights and is placed on top of a pole, which is 77 feet, or 23 meters, high. At one minute before midnight, the ball is lowered slowly. It comes to rest at the bottom at exactly midnight. The event is shown on television across the United States and around the world. This spectacle has been held every year since 1907, except during World War II.

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