Sleighing Into Winter Festivities
Believe it or not, not everyone celebrates Christmas. There are multiple festivities that occur during the winter, however, the holidays are celebrated on different days and are part of different cultures. Hanukkah, The Winter Solstice/Yule, and Krampusnacht are examples of winter festivities that are part of different cultures. Christmas is the customary holiday that almost everyone knows about because of Santa Claus as well as the exchange of gifts, which may not be the same for people with different traditions.
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Rededication, starts its celebration on November 28th and ends December 6th. Originating from Jerusalem, Hanukkah is usually celebrated at home, and consists of lighting one candle every night for eight nights. After every candle is lit, tradition is to serve foods fried in oil, such as Ashkenazi potato cakes and jelly donuts. This holiday is not associated with gift exchange, however the food seems to be just as good.
Krampusnacht originates from Germany. The cryptid, Krampus, is a demonic monster with horns, darkened hair, fangs and a long snake-like tongue to scare children. The Krampus tends to give sweets to well-behaved kids. However, he swats wicked kids, stuffs them into his portable wicker basket, and takes them to his lair for punishment. This tradition is used to help create respectful, well behaved children. Krampusnacht, or Krampus night, is celebrated on December 5th.
The Winter Solstice and Yule intertwine with each other, originating from the same Pagan traditions. It is one of the oldest winter traditions, where Druids (priests, religious figures) bring mistletoe to signify life. The Celts thought the sun would stay up for twelve days which would keep good fortunes coming. Yule and the Winter Solstice is celebrated by making evergreen wreaths, eating a feast, and participating in a wishing ritual. This holiday takes place to honor the connection between humanity and the natural world. The Winter Solstice and Yule are celebrated on December 21st.
Every festivity has its own cultural or religious significance. Christmas is not the only holiday that exchanges gifts, decorates, and expressively demonstrates its cultural significance. Looking into a new winter holiday will open up the mind to an understanding of the multiple different winter wonderlands. Santa Claus may not be the only thing coming down the chimney this holiday, because it could be Krampus too.
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