Holiday Traditions From Around The World


Fintan Cole, Staff Writer

Diwali, India (The Festival of Lights)


Diwali is the festival of lights and is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists. The festival is known to last up to five days and usually takes place in Kartika (between mid-October and mid-November). Diwali symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil. Diyas or oil lamps are a very important part of Diwali and are used to light the room. Before this happens, people usually dust and sweep their rooms. Rangolis are also a very important part of Diwali and they usually come with the diyas. Diwali celebrates the day Rama returned to his kingdom Ayodhya with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana after defeating Ravana in Lanka and serving 14 years of banishment.


Christmas, Holland


In old-timey Holland, Christmas was celebrated very uniquely. Holland is part of the Dutch Kingdom and the Dutch usually spend two days with their families. During that time, they play games, watch movies, and consume traditional Christmas food. You might not believe me at first, but December 25 is known as “Eerste Kerstdag” (first Christmas) and December 26 is known as “Tweede Kerstdag” (second Christmas). Too bad there’s not a “Derde Kerstdag” (third Christmas). Think of all the presents children would have! Speaking of presents and children, people would usually keep their clogs either by the fireplace or at the doorstep for “Sinterklaas” (Santa Claus, or St. Nicholas, in Dutch). Good children would find their clogs filled with cake and candy, while bad children would find coal. Coal is the universal sign of a child being punished.


Hanukkah, Israel


Hanukkah is celebrated for – strap yourselves in, people- NINE WHOLE DAYS AND NIGHTS!! Can you believe that? Every morning, a menorah is set directly at the middle of the table. Each day the sun goes down, a candle is lighted on the menorah. This part of the tradition proceeds for nine days. Special foods that Hanukkah people consume are latkes (LAT-cuz), kugels (KOO-gulls), rugelach (ROO-ge-lack), brisket (BRIS-kit), challah (HA-luh), et cetera. The most common game that Hanukkah people play is the dreidel game. The items used in the dreidel game are usually candy, coins, or beans. The dreidel has four sides:


SHIN – three into the pot

HAY – half from the pot

NUN – none from or into the pot

GIMEL – all from the pot


Kwanzaa, Africa


Kwanzaa is celebrated in African countries, some speak both English and Swahili. Major foods that people eat on Kwanzaa are African creoles, Cajun catfish, jerked chicken, or groundnut stew. The name Kwanzaa comes from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in the Swahili language. There is lots of dancing, eating, singing, playing, and a time to be thankful. Basically, this is Africa’s Thanksgiving Day in December right after Christmas. A well-known song that comes from Africa is “Jambo Bwana”. The song goes like this:


Jambo                      Hello

Jambo bwana         Hello sir

Habari gani             How are you

Mzuri sana              Pretty good


Wageni                    People

Mwakaribishwa     Are all welcome

Kenya yetu              In Kenya we

Hakuna matata      Have no concerns