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Thoughts of holiday traditions seem to take over this time of year with Hanukkah starting Wednesday at sundown, Christmas just 26 days away and Kwanzaa beginning
Kwanzaa is a weeklong celebration honoring the African heritage and culture. Kwanzaa consists of seven days of celebration, featuring activities such as candle-lighting and libations and culminating in a feast and gift giving, according to history.com.
Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966. After the Watts riots in Los Angeles, Karenga searched for ways to bring African-Americans together as a community.
He founded US, a cultural organization, and started to research African “first fruit” (harvest) celebrations. Karenga combined aspects of several different harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and the Zulu, to form the basis of Kwanzaa.
Though initially a minor holiday, Hanukkah has become one of the paradigmatic Jewish holidays. Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Jews over the Syrian Greeks in 164 BCE, and is celebrated by lighting a hanukkiah, or menorah, for eight days, eating latkes (potato pancakes) and playing a game called dreidel, according to myjewishlearning.com.
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