Celebrating the Season of Festivals of Light

During the month of December, we’ll be featuring posts about four Festivals of Light: Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza and New Year’s Eve, celebrated in the United States and around the world this month. Each week we’ll focus on one holiday and talk about the origins, celebrations and, of course, the food!

This year, Hanukkah begins on Sunday, December 22 and ends on Monday, December 30. A Jewish holiday that celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over Syrian-Greek army, it also celebrates a miracle that happened during this time, where just one day’s supply of oil allowed the menorah to remain lit for 8 days. Foods are fried in oil, celebrating the symbolism of the menorah oil, including latkes and jelly donuts.

Christmas, celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25, includes the lighting of the Christmas tree and stringing lights outside, traditionally to celebrate Christ as the light of the world. Different traditions are celebrated by Americans of many cultures and the foods eaten on Christmas Eve and day are reflective of their ethnic and cultural roots such as the Italian 7 fishes dinner on Christmas eve and for Polish Americans, 12 dishes served at Christmas dinner symbolizing the 12 apostles.

Kwanzaa, a week long holiday, will be celebrated this year from Thursday, December 26 to Wednesday, January 1st. Kwanzaa was established in the United States in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana studies, as a pan-African holiday celebrating African-American family, community and culture. It culminates in gift-giving and a feast including traditional foods such as cheese grits, black-eyed peas and yams.

New Year’s Eve fireworks are a tradition in the United States and around the world, bringing an end to the December holiday season of light. Of course, no New Year’s eve tradition would be complete without feasting on traditional ethic foods including, in the Japanese tradition, buckwheat soba noodles for long life and resiliency. According to German and Eastern European superstition, celebrate the New Year eve with a heaping plate of sauerkraut to bring wealth in the new year.

Check back each week in December to learn more about how each of these holidays is celebrated in the United States and around the world and to discover traditional foods that you can make at home.

And don’t forget, if you’re celebrating one of these holidays at home this December, ask Gersky’s to prepare the foods so you can stay out of the kitchen and enjoy your guests!

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Posted in Chanukah, Christmas, Christmas Day Dinner, Christmas Eve Dinner, Entertaining Tips, Holidays, New Year's Eve / Day Brunch.