With final exams coming up soon, you may find solace (or distraction) by thinking about the upcoming holidays. Have you ever thought about how these holidays came about? How about other winter holidays around the world? Encyclopedia Britannica (2022) lists over 20 holidays celebrated in various countries around the world in December alone; these holidays range from the Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12th) to St. Stephan’s Day (December 26th).
Did you know that, in the Netherlands, December 6th is known as St. Nicholas’ Day? On this day, St. Nicholas rides into town on a white horse wearing his red bishop robes, following a satanic creature known as “Black Peter” who beats naughty children with a switch and rewards good children with candy and toys (St. Nicholas Day, 2018). If that sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because St. Nicholas, or Sinterklass, is the partial inspiration for the American Santa Claus (St. Nicholas Day, 2018). So, while many people celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on December 24th and 25th respectively, people in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and several other European countries celebrate and exchange gifts on December 5th (St. Nicholas Eve) and December 6th (St. Nicholas Day).
Want to learn more? This discussion will highlight some books that answer your burning questions about some of humanity’s most poignant winter celebrations.
The complete Kwanzaa: celebrating our cultural harvest is a comprehensive guide to one of the major winter holidays celebrated in America today. Kwanzaa is a relatively new holiday; it was created in the mid-1960s and introduced by Maulana Karenga. Kwanzaa celebrates African family and social values, and the holiday occurs each December 26th-January 1st (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2022b). In this book you will find discussions of the foundations of the holiday, gift giving suggestions, the meanings behind the 7 principles of Kwanzaa, and more! (OCLC, 2022c)
Hanukkah: The family guide to spiritual celebration is essential reading for anyone interested in learning more about the holiday. In this book you will learn everything about Hanukkah, including the story of Hanukkah, music of Hanukkah, the food of Hanukkah, and more! (OCLC, 2022d) Hanukkah is about more than just eight crazy nights of celebration. Don’t take my word for it, come by the library and check this out.
The next book in this discussion examines the history of celebrations and ceremonies that are associated with the Winter Solstice. In this book, you will learn about the meaning of the Solstice, some of the first festivals to be celebrated during the Winter Solstice, more specific information about Solstice rites and festivals, how these festivals can also include a little tomfoolery, and how you can celebrate and create Solstice festivals yourself (OCLC, 2022a). Celebrations of the Solstice are some of the oldest celebrations in the world. This book is essential reading to anyone wanting to learn more about them.
The last book in this discussion covers one of biggest, if not the biggest, holidays celebrated during the winter months. Christmas is often hailed as “the most wonderful time of the year” and this book will take you back to some of the very first Christmases celebrated (or not celebrated) in the New World, as well as discuss topics such as Christmas trees, Christmas gifts, the profound effects of famous literature on this holiday, and much more (OCLC, 2022b). Check this book out if, like this author, Christmas is your favorite time of year.
This is only a taste of the books held by HPU Libraries about winter holidays. As stated at the beginning of this discussion, there are many holidays celebrated around the world during the month of December, with great reverence held for these holidays by those who celebrate them. Whichever holiday(s) you celebrate during this time of year, HPU Libraries wishes you the very best during your holiday season.
-Blog post by Bryan Nicholls, Evening Reference Librarian
Encyclopedia Britannica. (2022a). “Holiday” In Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/holiday
Encyclopedia Britannica (2022b). “Kwanzaa” In Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Kwanzaa
OCLC. (2022a). [HPU Library catalog entry for] Celebrate the solstice: honoring the Earth’s seasonal rhythms through festival and ceremony. https://hpulibraries.on.worldcat.org/oclc/876042610
OCLC. (2022b). [HPU Library catalog entry for] Christmas in America: a history. https://hpulibraries.on.worldcat.org/oclc/31433849
OCLC. (2022c). [HPU Library catalog entry for] The complete Kwanzaa: celebrating our cultural harvest. https://hpulibraries.on.worldcat.org/oclc/52596472
OCLC. (2022d). [HPU Library catalog entry for] Hanukkah: the family guide to spiritual celebration. https://hpulibraries.on.worldcat.org/oclc/48144300
St. Nicholas’s Day. (2018). In P. Jaikumar (Ed.), Holidays around the world: detailing more than 3,400 observances from all 50 states and more than 100 nations: a compendious reference guide to popular, ethnic, religious, national, and ancient holidays, festivals, celebrations, commemorations, holy days, feasts, and fasts, including contact information and websites (6th ed.). Omnigraphics, Inc. https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/hfcwd/st_nicholas_s_day/0