Though often thought of as an alternative to Christmas, many people actually celebrate both. “Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, but a cultural one with an inherent spiritual quality,” Karenga wrote. 3. Kwanzaa centers around seven principles.
Recognition and Resources
Let's Celebrate!: Special Days Around the World
by Kate DePalma (Author), Martina Peluso (Illustrator)
Readers are invited to experience a child's-eye view of 13 special days around the world, such as the Spring Festival, Inti Raymi, Eid al-Fitr, Día de Muertos and the New Yam Festival.
After years of campaigning by activists, members of Congress and Coretta Scott King, among others, in 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a U.S. federal holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..
Observed on the third Monday of January, Martin Luther King Day was first celebrated in 1986. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.
Dr. King, a Baptist minister, advocated the use of nonviolent means to end racial segregation. He came to national prominence during a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. He founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957 and led the 1963 March on Washington.
The most influential of African American civil rights leaders during the 1960s, he was instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination in public accommodations, facilities, and employment, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1964. He was assassinated April 4, 1968.
Did you know the Lunar New Year is the most important social and economic holiday for billions of people around the world. The holiday is related to the lunar-solar Chinese calendar. It was originally observed as a time to honor household and heavenly deities and ancestors.
During the festivities, which this year run from Feb. 1 - 11, ancestors are remembers and honored through traditional ceremonies and customs to celebrate a new start.
Each Lunar year is represented by a cycle of 12 zodiac animals. This year is the Year of the Tiger, the first since 2010. The tiger is thought to be brave, courageous and strong. Many see the tiger as an uplifting animal, giving people hope and encouragement for the new year.
The celebration of Black History Mont began in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, a noted African American historian, scholar, educator and publisher. It became a month-long celebration in 1976. The month of February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
Black History Month was established to honor the contributions of African Americans to U.S. history.
For more information about Black History Month and to read the contributions of some of the noteworthy Americans, you can visit the History website.
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States.
The annual celebration recognizes the historical and cultural contributions of individuals and groups of Asian and Pacific Islander descent to the United States.
According to The U.S. Department of Labor, the designation of Asian-Pacific Islander is "a person with origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East (i.e. East and Southeast Asia), Indian subcontinent or the Pacific Islands."
For more information and exhibits, visit the Library of Congress website.
On April 20, 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed May asJewish American Heritage Month. The purpose of the designation was to recognize the more than 350-year history of Jewish contributions to American culture. The resolutions passed unanimously, first in the House of Representatives in December 2005 and later in the Senate in February 2006.
To learn more about Jewish American Heritage Month, you can visit the website created by the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
"The uprising at the Stonewall Inn in June, 1969, sparked a liberation movement — a call to action that continues to inspire us to live up to our Nation’s promise of equality, liberty, and justice for all. Pride is a time to recall the trials the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community has endured and to rejoice in the triumphs of trailblazing individuals who have bravely fought — and continue to fight — for full equality. Pride is both a jubilant communal celebration of visibility and a personal celebration of self-worth and dignity. This Pride Month, we recognize the valuable contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals across America, and we reaffirm our commitment to standing in solidarity with LGBTQ+ Americans in their ongoing struggle against discrimination and injustice."
In this edition of Just for Fun Story Time, Angelina Abbott reads Rainbow: A First Book of Pride by Michael Genhart. The book reveals the colorful meaning behind each rainbow stripe in a simple and engaging format for young readers.
President Joe Biden signed legislation June 17, 2021 establishing June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a U.S. federal holiday.
"I have to say to you, I've only been president for several months, but I think this will go down, for me, as one of the greatest honors I will have as president," Biden said at the White House during a signing ceremony.
Juneteenth marks the date some of the last enslaved people became free. On June 19, 1865 Union Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of slavery in Galveston, Texas, in accordance with President Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.
The holiday is the first federal holiday established since 1983 when Martin Luther King Jr. Day became the 11th federal holiday recognized by the U.S. federal government.
Rosh Hashanah, first of the High Holidays, is the Jewish New Year.
The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is blowing the shofar (ram’s horn) on both mornings of the holiday (except on Shabbat), which is normally done in synagogue as part of the day’s services.
Rosh Hashanah feasts traditionally include round challah bread (studded with raisins) and apples dipped in honey, as well as other foods that symbolize our wishes for a sweet year.
Other Rosh Hashanah observances include candle lighting in the evenings and desisting from creative work. Together with Yom Kippur (which follows 10 days later), it is part of the High Holidays.
Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting Sept. 15 and ending Oct. 15. It was enacted into law Aug. 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.
We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month to recognize the achievements and contributions of Hispanic American champions who have inspired others to achieve success.
"Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing and pronouncing words. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives; however, its impact can change at different stages in a person’s life. It is referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment, and in its more severe forms, will qualify a student for special education, special accommodations or extra support services."
DIWALI: FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
In India, one of the most significant festivals is Diwali, or the Festival of Lights. It's a five-day celebration that includes good food, fireworks, colored sand, and special candles and lamps, according to National Geographic.
"The festival gets its name from the row (avali) of clay lamps (deepa) that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects from spiritual darkness. This festival is as important to Hindus as the Christmas holiday is to Christians."
Diwali is celebrated over five days. This year, the Festival of Lights begins Oct. 22. For more information on this holiday, visit National Geographic for Kids.
Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day festival celebrating the "rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its defilement by the Syrian Greeks in 164 BCE," according to My Jewish Learning.
Much of the activity of Hanukkah takes place at home, including the lighting of the menorah, an eight-branched candelabrum to which one candle is added on each of the eight nights of the holiday. Based on the story of the miracle of the cruse of oil, it is tradition to eat food fried in oil. The most familiar Hanukkah foods are the European potato pancakes, or latkes, and the Israeli favorite, jelly donuts.
Developed in Europe, the tradition of giving small amounts of money as well as nuts and raisins to children at this time was created. According to My Jewish Learning, because the holiday falls near Christmas, "Hanukkah has evolved into the central gift-giving holiday in the Jewish calendar in the Western world."
Christmas is celebrated Dec. 25 and is both a "sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon," according to History.com. Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth on Christmas. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. Christmas Day has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870.
Kwanzaa is an annual celebration of African-American culture held Dec. 26 - Jan. 1, culminating in a communal feast called Karamu, usually held on the 6th day.
Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State university, Long Beach, introduced the festival in 1966 to the United States as a ritual to welcome the first harvests to the home. Karenga combined aspects of different harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and those of the Zulu, to form the basis of the holiday.