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
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.
"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."
When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff is a picture book that celebrates the changes in a transgender boy's life, from his initial coming out to becoming a big brother. The book won the 2020 Stonewall Book Award.
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.
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 Nov. 4. 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.