While our weather so far has been unseasonably mild, the days continue to grow shorter as we approach the start of winter. It puts me in mind that the holidays we celebrate at this time of year, with all of their warmth, candles and colorful lights, are probably meant to comfort people in the face of this cold, dark season. It’s no wonder that we celebrate the holidays this way; all of these hours of darkness can feel pretty cold and lonely. In the depths of winter we turn to each other, family and friends, for warmth and reassurance that the sun will indeed be returning.
I talked with some of my friends of different cultures to learn how they celebrate the winter holidays, and I heard about many different ways they enjoy the season. Some attend parties, family gatherings and religious services. For many folks holiday shows on television provide celebration. I just saw a clever headline in the New York Times that said, “Christmas Shows Are TV’s December Comfort Food.” The story said that everybody seems to be doing a holiday special these days, and advertisers know that these shows reliably draw a lot of viewers.
Food is another source of holiday comfort, from Christmas cookies and Hanukkah’s potato pancakes to pork and sauerkraut, a traditional German dinner that promises good luck for the coming year. I talked with Hirma Borjas, one of my staff, and she told me that her family’s tradition includes tamales at Christmas and elephant ears (the pastry) on New Year’s Day. Her father also made Menudo, a Mexican soup of tripe in red chili pepper broth that was good for the morning after a late night celebration.
Many in my family spend New Year’s Eve in candlelight services at church. Some African-Americans celebrate that night as Watch Night in remembrance of December 31, 1862 when communities in the North and South of the United States gathered to wait for the first day of 1863 when the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect and slaves throughout the country became free.
Recently Coyle Collier, a Muslim gentleman visiting my office, told me that while he takes part in gatherings around the holidays, it’s not in a religious way. “Being right with God is a personal thing, something that happens inside, and it’s more important than anything else in life.”
Here is a little piece I received from Costella Mack at the Weisser Park Youth Center. I have several friends who have been attending Weisser Park’s Kwanzaa celebration since they were children in the 1970s.
“Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday but a time of reflection, a time for families and community to come together. It lasts from the 26th of December until the 1st of January. On each of those seven days a different principle is honored:
collective work and responsibility
a sense of purpose
A Kwanzaa celebration will be held at Weisser Park Youth Center at 802 Eckart Street on Tuesday, December 29 at 6pm. There will be a free dinner, live band, poetry and dance. Come and see the children perform!
Maybe I will see you at this celebration or at one of the many other gatherings of the season. I know from reading The Waynedale News that you folks certainly know how to celebrate the winter holidays.
Warm wishes to all of you and let’s look forward to bright New Year.
- TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE STEVENSON ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT– Voice Of The Township - December 20, 2019
- LIVING BELOW THE POVERTY LINE – Voice Of The Township - December 6, 2019
- THE HOLIDAY SEASON IS UPON US – Voice Of The Township - November 22, 2019