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Home Resource Center Travel Tips Planning Holiday Fun - Create traditions.

Holiday Fun - Create traditions.

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Holiday Fun - Create traditions.
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Family Holiday Fun
A time for families to gather and celebrate!

          Holidays offer pauses in our busy lives and good reasons to gather with family and friends, reflect on our blessings, and rejoice in gratitude. Our major holidays have origins from around the world and date back thousands of years. Many are a mix of customs from many cultures, and they offer opportunities to better understand other traditions. Take advantage of these festive times and create your own family traditions for generations to come.
    Learn more about the history of holiday celebrations on the internet and at your local library. Join in the many organized festivities found in your own com-munity and around the world.

Halloween

    Halloween is one of the oldest holidays with Celtic origins in Great Britain and Northern France. On the eve of November 1st, the Celts celebrated Samhain, the harvest and the new year. The celebration signaled the end of the “season of the sun” and the beginning of “the season of darkness and cold.” Celtic families renewed home fires, danced around huge outdoor bonfires, and wore costumes of hides with animal heads to confuse the spirits. After the Romans invaded Britain, the customs of Pomona Day, named for their goddess of fruits and gardens, celebrated around November 1st mixed with the Celtic festival.         
    With the spread of Christianity, the church attempted to incorporate the pagan celebration by designating November 1st as All Saints Day to honor the saints, and November 2nd as All Souls' Day to honor the dead. Eventually the customs from all these holidays combined. October 31st became known as All Hallowed’s Eve, or Halloween and includes all of the influences of Pomona Day’s apples, nuts, and harvest; the Festival of Samhain’s black cats, magic, evil spirits, and death; and the ghosts, skeletons and skulls from All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day.

Day of the Dead

     Day of the Dead in Mexico is much like Memorial Day when families visit, clean, and decorate graves of departed loved ones. The origins of the Day of the Dead are a blend of cultures and religion: Aztec, Maya and Spanish and layered with Catholicism. When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico they encountered two-month celebrations honoring death, the fall harvest, and the new year. Harvest rituals used fires and incense, costumes of animal skins, images of their dead, and offerings. In the eighth century, the church decreed November 1 as All Saints Day,
a day to honor the saints. The Mexican people, however, kept their familiar ceremonies and All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day evolved into a yearly tradition that honors the dead with color, candles, and joyous celebration.         
    Many families honor their departed ancestors with home altars laden with photographs, flowers, candles, and favorite foods and drinks of the loved ones.
        Some prepare the altar of offerings at the gravesite lighting candles and placing flowers. All night, throughout the cemetery extended families bring back the dead through stories, memories and dreams. Those who celebrate realize the importance of living, working, and loving in order to be well remembered, well respected, and greatly missed when departed.

Thanksgiving

     Throughout history mankind has celebrated the bountiful harvest with thanksgiving ceremonies. Before formal religions, ancient farmers believed that their crops contained spirits which caused the crops to grow and die. Many believed that these spirits would be released when the crops were harvested and they had to be de-stroyed or they would take revenge on the farmers who harvested them. Some harvest festivals celebrated the defeat of these spirits.
    The Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, Chinese, and Egyptians held harvest festivals and thanksgiving celebrations. Today in the U.S., Thanksgiving is celebrated on the last Thursday in November, proclaimed in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln. The beginnings of Thanksgiving are thought to have come about in the third year after the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts. After nearly starving to death the first year, Native Americans taught them how to farm and gather food. The following harvest was bountiful and gave rise to a thanksgiving feast. The following year, after a spring and summer of drought, the pilgrims had a day of fast and prayer. Soon after this the rains came. To celebrate, November 29th of that year was proclaimed a day of thanksgiving.

Chanukah

    Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, is a celebration of the victory of the Jews and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. Over 2,300 years ago in the land of Judea, which is now Israel, the Syrian king ordered the Jewish people to reject their God, their religion, their customs and their beliefs and to worship the Greek gods. After three years of fighting, the Jews were finally successful in driving the Syrians out of Israel and they reclaimed the temple in Jerusalem. On the 25th day of the month of Kislev, the temple was rededicated with the eternal light, known as the N'er Tamid. The small oil lamp was filled and lit. Then a miracle occurred as the tiny amount of oil stayed lit not for one day, but for eight days. The Festival of the Lights, Chanukah, lasts for eight days to commemorate the miracle of the oil. The word Chanukah means "rededication."



 

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