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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – From Thanksgiving to New Years’ Day, there are a lot of holidays squeezed into a little more than a month’s time, giving rise to a season that exuberates joy, family, coming together, and giving back.
While it’s a given that the holidays falling between November and January should be celebrated, how many people actually know the history behind one of the most joyous seasons?
Many remember stories of Native Americans and pilgrims from elementary school, but Thanksgiving was actually created to celebrate the harvest and the blessings of the preceding year. The Protestant Reformation tradition of the holiday was carried over to the U.S. by the English in the 1600’s and has since become one of the most important holidays of the year.
It’s the biggest shopping day of the year, but many have no idea where it got its name from. Originally used by police, the term was used in a negative context because of the major traffic jams that resulted in widespread shopping the day after Thanksgiving.
Fast forward a few years, and the term began to describe accounting practicing in which many retailers were no longer in the red (or losing money) for the year but instead the black because of the massive amounts of money spent by consumers on that day.
Hannukkah shares much of the same popularity as Christmas in the U.S., which makes complete sense seeing as how it’s a holiday that is more than 21 centuries old. The history of Hanukkah isn’t a short one to tell, but all-in-all it’s the story of the people of Isreal’s victory over the Greeks. The eight-day Jewish holiday celebrates that victory as well as the candelabrum which only had enough oil to burn for one night, but miraculously burned for eight. Hanukkah is definitely a celebration of triumph and miracles.
Christmas’ origins have numerous stories from around the world, and it would seem that each culture has their own version of the holiday.
From winter festivals to Christian beginnings, Christmas has roots that date back to biblical times. Many associate Christmas with the birth of Jesus Christ before it became a more winter solstice-centered holiday that celebrated its roots in winter festivals.
Created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa commemorates African heritage in African-American culture. Karenga says he created the holiday to give African-Americans an opportunity to celebrate their heritage outside of the dominant society’s cultural practices during the holiday season. The term Kwanzaa and its associated terms are derived Swahili and seek to build on the concept of unity and heritage in families.
New Year’s Eve/Day
The celebration of New Year’s Eve and Day date back more than 4,000 years ago to ancient Babylon in which a feast and festival were implemented to revel in a new year.
The practice of celebrating a new year stayed throughout the years with the Egyptians and Romans as well. Each country around the world celebrates it differently, but they can all trace the origins back to the original party thrown by the Babylonians.