Different faiths during the holiday season

By on December 4, 2012
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Now that exam week is almost here and the semester is coming to a close, the holiday season is rapidly approaching.

Although Thanksgiving is usually celebrated by everyone because it’s more of an American holiday, other faith-based festivities branch out after the fourth Thursday of November.

Traditional Jewish menorah lit up for Hannukah. Wikimedia Commons

Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa will welcome the beginning of 2013, and many students across UAB’s diverse campus celebrate these holidays.

“My family and I celebrate most major holidays together, from Independence Day to Thanksgiving to Christmas,” says Markelle Smith, a senior Spanish major.

Christmas, traditionally, is the celebration of Jesus Christ’s dissension from Heaven and birth into human form, whose goal was to ultimately pay for the sins of everyone – past, present, and future.

“It’s really just a time to celebrate the holiday season and its meaning and also a chance to enjoy each other’s company,” said Smith.

Christmas, secularly, celebrates the fictitious annual trip made by Santa Claus to each household, providing each person with a gift he or she desires, depending on whether or not that person’s past behavior has been naughty or nice.

Another major holiday about to take place is Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, which is an eight-day Jewish holiday that commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, represented by the lighting of a unique candelabra each night.

“Most people here obviously celebrate Christmas, regardless of whether or not they are Christians,” says junior communications student Elizabeth Mastradonas. “I think it’s important to take note of Hanukkah and the significance it has to Jewish faith and tradition.”

One more holiday that deserves mentioning is Kwanzaa, a week-long celebration in the United States and Canada that honors African heritage and culture and is based on seven core values: unity, self-determination, responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

“Kwanzaa is one of those holidays that remains shadowed by the immense celebration of Christmas,” said Khris William, a sophomore communications major.

“Even though it’s a celebration commemorating the impact African-Americans have had on our nation’s culture, I feel like a significant amount of black people don’t even really acknowledge it, and that’s a shame.”

These major holidays have one thing in common— gift giving.

These three major holidays incorporate the exchanging of gifts to one another, and “the holiday shopping season” is the period of time from the day after Thanksgiving through the end of January.
The retail sector’s peak sales for the year typically occur during holiday season and expect to generate approximately $586 billion with a 12% increase in online sales from last year, according to Shop.org.

“This weekend I’m going to start buying gifts for my friends and family,” said Smith. “I love this time of year.”

Russ Timothy
Staff Writer
russtim@uab.edu

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