Muse & Schmooze: Hanukkah Is Here, and So Are These Other Holidays

Hanukkah is here! Are you in a celebratory mood? Aside from Christmas, here are a few other December holidays you can indulge in to keep the holiday spirit going:

I’m sure you’ve heard of Kwanzaa, but do you actually know what it is? It’s similar to Hanukkah in that it lasts a week and is also symbolized by a candelabra. It’s far more modern than ancient Hanukkah though; it was founded in 1965 by Maulana Karenga. It occurs Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 and celebrates African culture, family and community. The name is derived from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” meaning “first fruits of the harvest.” It’s kind of like Sukkot meets Hanukkah meets Christmas.

The great Stiller and Seinfeld unite for this classic. What came to life in 1997 is now mainstream pop culture. Want to celebrate? Here’s how: Break out your unadorned aluminum pole on Dec. 23 to directly contrast the normal holiday materialism; participate in the “Airing of Grievances,” an opportunity to tell others how they have disappointed you in the past year; enjoy a Festivus dinner; and complete your celebration with the “Feats of Strength,” in which the head of the household must be pinned. Here’s to “a Festivus for the rest of us!”

No, not the cat! In Israel you’ll hear this name a lot come December because, while Rosh Hashanah celebrates the Jewish New Year, “Sylvester” is the name Israelis use for New Year’s Eve. It’s become more and more popular in recent years, with people partying in Tel Aviv. But where did the name come from? Well, it turns out that back in the year 314, there was a Catholic pope named Sylvester; he died on Dec. 31 and a huge feast was held that day.

Paper Snowflake Day
Did you know that Dec. 27 has been named the (un)official day of cut-out paper snowflakes? If crafting is a religion for you like it is for me, this only seems natural! Paper snowflakes are an inexpensive and easy way to make your house feel wintery fresh, plus making them is fun to do with friends and family during this typically slower season (and it’s a good indoor activity if the weather is bad!). Check out Martha Stewart’s tutorial for inspiration.

Boxing Day
This one probably shows up on your calendar, even though you may not know what it is. Thought to originate from the more religious St. Stephen’s Day, Boxing Day is celebrated on Dec. 26. It’s a British holiday, traditionally viewed as the day on which servants, tradespeople and the poor were presented with gifts.

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