By Maia Vo

Almost everyone here at Pin Oak has a holiday to celebrate in the winter time, so in return, we get two weeks off. Winter sets everyone in a happy mood since students are getting off for the holidays, but where do these holidays come from? From Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, the most well known holidays have the strangest but coolest stories behind them.

First on the list, the most celebrated holiday worldwide, Christmas. Christmas is celebrated by Christians to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God, more than 2,000 years ago. It is said that he was born to restore mankind and give eternal life. Most that celebrate Christmas are highly involved with the day, but others just consider it another winter holiday with not much meaning.

The next one on the list, Hanukkah, goes way back. Hanukkah is celebrated on the 25th day during the Jewish month Kislev. It usually falls in the month of December, but changes every year because Jews go by a lunar calendar compared to the calendar that we use. Hanukkah celebrates the day that they got their holy temple in Jerusalem after it was taken over by a king who tried to outlaw Judaism. When the Jews tried to replenish the flame for the holy lamp, they only had enough burning oil for one night. Instead, it stayed lit for eight nights. The Jews believed this to be miraculous. They had enough time to leave the temple to retrieve more oil to keep the flame lit. Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days for the eight nights that the flame burned on. They light one candle on a menorah for each night for eight days and remember the miracle long ago.

Kwanzaa is another important holiday for people globally, but it’s a bit different from Christmas and Hanukkah. This holiday is not religious, instead, Kwanzaa is day to celebrate all the history and culture of African Americans and a day to bring friends and family together. This holiday was founded by Dr. Ron Karenga to restore tradition and culture. Kwanzaa is seven days and takes place on December 26th to January 1st. They have a kinara and it is much like the Jewish menorah, and on each day, they light one candle for each of the seven days. A kinara has seven candles, with three red candles on the very right side on the kinara, three green candles on the opposite side, and one black candle front and center on the kinara.

All in all, winter is a time for lots of holiday cheer and time with family. No matter what holiday you celebrate, whether it be one or even all three, everyone should be able to enjoy the holidays times with the people you love.