Celebrating Holiday Traditions From Around the World!

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If there is one thing to be said about the holiday season, it is that there are plenty of unique holiday traditions practiced across many cultures. While some traditions are relatively new, other holiday traditions have been practiced for hundreds of years. Here are some fun facts about our favorite holiday traditions:

391px-Illustration_Viscum_album0Mistletoe:

  • Hanging mistletoe is a long-standing holiday tradition that can be traced back to ancient Druid civilization in Europe. [1]
  • Mistletoe behaves like a parasite–it will grow by anchoring itself onto a host plant, and its root will invade the host. [1]
  • Current biochemical research on mistletoe juices show promise for use in breast cancer treatment. [1]

St. Lucia’s Crown of Candles:394px-NannetteDapper1967

  • In Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, girls wear a white dress with a red sash and a crown of candles to celebrate Saint Lucia’s Day.[2]
  • Swedish legend alleges that a ship carrying a maiden wearing white and crowned in light gave food and clothing to the needy during a famine in Värmland.[3]

13929346818496Symbols of Kwanzaa:

  • There are seven symbols of Kwanzaa: Mazaao (Crops), Mkeka (Mat), Kinara (Candle holder), Muhindi (Ears of corn), Zawadi (Gifts), Kikambe Cha Umoja (Unity Cup), and Mishumaa Saba (Seven Candles). [4]
  • The Seven Candles are mean to represent the Seven Principles central to Kwanzaa: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). [4]

800px-Iftar_beguniEid ul-Fitr:

  • In Arabic, “eid” means something habitual, or festivity. [6]
  • Eid ul-Fitr is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. It is  three-day-long celebration that symbolizes the breaking of the fasting period. [6]

466px-Dreidel_001

The Dreidel:

  • Jewish lore alleges that the dreidel was used in ancient times, when Greek-Syrians prohibited Jews from studying the Torah. The Jews would hide their religious books and play with dreidels as a decoy.[5]
  • The word dreidel comes from the German word “drehen,” meaning “to turn.”[5]
  • Gambling games centered around a spinning top have been played for centuries in Europe. The Jewish dreidel game likely evolved from a German gambling game.[5]

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