Intro To Other Holidays Besides Christmas!

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Siraj Bajwa, Writer

Every human in the United States of America knows when Christmas is and what it is. Houses everywhere are adorned with beautiful, bright lights, and trees full of ornaments can be seen at every public space. Christmas has become a national holiday, even if it is technically a Christian holiday. With America being such a diverse place full of different religions and nationalities, there are a a lot of different holidays celebrated by people of different religions that many are not aware of, or at least are not too knowledgeable of. Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Eid are some holidays celebrated by many of your fellow Americans, so get to know them a little better!


The seven-day African-American holiday was introduced in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga as a response to Christmas, as well as a ritual celebrating first harvests and African culture and heritage. “Kwanzaa” means “first” in KiSwahili. Kwanzaa also has similarities to Thanksgiving, focusing on seven different core values, which, like Hanukkah, are represented by candles. describes Kwanzaa as a holiday that “brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense”. Gifts are exchanged, banquets of food are held, and African-American culture is commemorated. Kwanzaa begins on December 26th, ending on January 1st.

A family celebrates Kwanzaa together. Courtesy of


Also known as the festival of lights, this Jewish holiday is another candle-heavy celebration. Hanukkah is a holiday about the Jews driving the Syrians out of Jerusalem,  and the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The story that inspired Hanukkah isn’t actually told in the Torah(the Jewish holy book) because it occurred after the book was written, but it is included in The New Testament. On each of the eight days of Hanukkah, a candle is lit on one of the nine branches of the menorah, with the ninth candle being used to light the other candles.  Hanukkah customs include playing with tops called four-sided spinning tops called dreidels, eating fried foods like potato pancakes and ham-filled donuts, and exchanging gifts. Starting on December 22nd and ending on December 30th, the Jewish holiday falls on the same time as Christmas.

A girl lights candles for Hanukkah.
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The Islamic celebrations occur twice a year, and at different time every dear according to the moon. Eid Al-Fitr celebrates the end of Ramadan, the holiest Islamic month, and 30 days of fasting. Eid Al-Adha commemorates important events in Islamic history. Both days include a gathering of Muslims to pray. These special prayers have happened at the Angels Stadium, the Anaheim Convention Center, and even local mosques. After the prayer, Muslims invite each other to their homes to share meals and enjoy themselves. On Eid Al-Adha, Muslims must slaughter a cow, sheep, or other lawful animals, and distribute it to their family and the needy.

Muslims pray a special prayer for Eid.
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There are many more holidays observed by all kinds of people of different backgrounds and belief systems. It’s really interesting seeing our similarities and distinctions that make our country a diverse melting pot. Understanding things special to fellow Comanches helps us understand each other and grow to love and appreciate each other more!