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    The Art of Celebration – How We Celebrate the Holidays

    Holiday traditions, while unique in their own right, are what bind us together as a culture.  During the month of December during the hustle and bustle of shopping, eating and entertaining, we all seem to have one main goal:  to celebrate in the company of those we love.  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or a combination thereof,  all tend to celebrate at some point during December.

    Hanukkah, the “Festival of Lights,”, commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the second century.  This year, the observance began at sunset on Saturday, December 8 and will end at nightfall on Sunday, December 16.   Perhaps the most prominent symbol is the nine-branched menorah or hanukiah. One candle is lit each night of the holiday, progressing to a total of eight on the final night.  The ninth extra light, or shamash, is used for utility purposes, for extra light.  The lights of the Hanukkah menorah are a reminder that as winter approaches and the nights grow longer, even in the darkness, there is light.

    Christmas, meaning Christ’s Mass, celebrated on December 25, marks the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ and is considered by many to be the most holy day of the year.  Many focus on the importance of gift giving and on finding the perfect gift, while also celebrating by attending or performing in concerts and church services, sending Christmas cards, baking cookies, cooking traditional meals, and by hosting festive parties.

    There are many signs and symbols which represent the Christmas season.  One of these, the holly branch with its sharp edges, represents the crown of thorns worn by Jesus at His crucifixion.  The red berries represent His blood.  Christmas trees were often brought indoors and decorated in hopes of having a good crop the following year.  They have also been linked to divinity.

    Kwanzaa, which began in 1966, is traditionally celebrated from December 26 through January 1.  Each of the seven days is dedicated to one of the seven core principles, or Nguzo Saba, on which the celebration of Kwanzaa is based.  These principles are Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith.  These seven days culminate in one final celebration and a ceremonious meal;  gifts are also exchanged.

    All who celebrate during the holiday season seem to treasure the same things:  sharing good food, sharing good times, and sharing company.

    Add music to your celebrations with these popular holiday favorites.

    Season’s Greetings:  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa from all of the staff here at J.W. Pepper!

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    Karen DeSimonehttp://www.jwpepper.com
    Karen DeSimone is a graduate of Immaculata College with a Bachelor degree in Music Education and a certificate in Elementary Education. She also has done graduate work in Elementary Education through West Chester University.

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