Hanukkah and Kwanzaa Spread Holiday Cheer

By: Marcus Washington
By: Marcus Washington

December 27, 2005

Returned gifts make their way back to department stores and Christmas trees head to the curb this week. However, the holiday season is just beginning for some people, as Hanukah and Kwanzaa kick off.

This week is a special one for one-year-old Ester Mayer and her parents. This is the first time the little one is celebrating Hanukah.

"Hanukah is never [to] be satisfied with status quo," said Rabbi Shlomo Mayer, Ester's father. "Always increase in your Jewish tradition [and] your Jewish heritage."

Rabbi Shlomo also says that Hanukah is about striving to do better than you did the day before. It's a lasting tradition that dates back to 165 B.C.

"What happened was the Jewish people rededicated the Temple after the Greeks wanted to destroy it and to take everything apart," said Rabbi Shlomo.

Once control of Temple was gained by the Jews, they found enough oil to supply light for one night. That light buried eight nights, giving the reason for the menorah and its eight candles.

Another celebration that commemorates with candles is Kwanzaa. The primarily African American holiday was started by a professor at Long Beach State nearly 40 years ago. Its seven candles represent Kwanzaa's seven principles: unity, self determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

"Kwanzaa is more of a cultural holiday. It's got spiritual in it, but you can be any race any religion," said Kwanzaa celebrant, Oran Z.

Those who celebrate Hanukah and Kwanzaa typically come from two different cultures, two different backgrounds, but both strive for the rededication of one's self.

This year the first day of Hanukah fell on Christmas Day, which has only happened 4 times in the past 100 years.

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