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At IMAGINARIUM we think learning to hear and honor other people's stories and traditions helps expand our humanity as well as the strength of the collective whole. We invite you to learn from these Winter traditions, and help us pass this resource along to others. We deeply honor your light and the light we share. 

Hanukkah (Hebrew word for dedication) is a Jewish festival that is celebrated for 8 days. This festival is a time to reaffirm your Jewish ideals by lighting a candle on each consecutive day. 


Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the second century BCE. The story is rooted in the Maccabean Revolt, a Jewish uprising against the oppressive Seleucid Empire.

In the year 165 BCE, the Seleucid King Antiochus IV imposed Hellenistic practices on the Jewish population and forbade Jewish practice or prayer, leading to a rebellion led by a small group of Jewish fighters known as the Maccabees. Against overwhelming odds, the Maccabees successfully reclaimed the Temple and rededicated it.

The military victory is just one of the two miracles associated with Hanukkah.  The other is the story of the oil. When the Maccabees rededicated the Temple, they found only a single container of pure olive oil, enough to light the menorah (known as a Hannukiah, for it had 8 lights, different from a typical menorah which has only 7) for one day. Miraculously, the small amount of oil lasted for eight days.. This event is commemorated by the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah, adding one candle for each of the eight nights.

Hanukkah is a time for Jews around the world to celebrate the victory of religious freedom over oppression and the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days. Traditional Hanukkah activities also include playing dreidel (a spinning top game), eating foods fried in oil (like latkes and sufganiyot/donuts), and exchanging gifts. 

Don Francis


Religious Celebration. Beginning on the evening of Thu, Dec 7, 2023 – Fri, Dec 15, 2023. The dates change each year



Usually occuring around December 21st or 22nd


The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. This astronomical event happens when the Earth's axial tilt is farthest from the sun, resulting in the sun appearing at its lowest point in the sky at noon.

During the Winter Solstice, the Northern Hemisphere receives the least amount of daylight, making it the shortest day of the year. Conversely, it is the longest night.

Cultural and Religious Celebrations: The Winter Solstice has been observed and celebrated in various cultures throughout history. Many festivals and traditions are linked to the solstice, often symbolizing themes of renewal, light, and the triumph of warmth and life over darkness and cold.

Modern Celebrations: While not as widely celebrated as some other holidays, the Winter Solstice is still acknowledged by various communities, and some people choose to mark the occasion with gatherings, rituals, or simply by spending time in nature.

Overall, the Winter Solstice is a natural event with cultural and historical significance, symbolizing the changing of seasons and the return of longer days as the Earth's axial tilt gradually shifts toward the sun.

Advent serves as a period of reflection, anticipation, and spiritual preparation for Christians. It lasts for four weeks, with each week focusing on a different theme represented by the lighting of candles on an Advent wreath. The themes often include hope, peace, joy, and love.

Advent is a season observed in many Christian denominations as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. The word "Advent" comes from the Latin word "adventus," meaning "coming" or "arrival." 

Advent serves as a period of reflection, anticipation, and spiritual preparation for Christians. It lasts for four weeks, with each week focusing on a different theme represented by the lighting of candles on an Advent wreath. The themes often include hope, peace, joy, and love.


Ashley Jones

Religious Celebration. The duration of Advent is four weeks, leading up to Christmas Day. Specific dates change each year.


Tess Brown


Religious Celebration on December 25th


Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. The story of Christmas is primarily based on accounts found in the New Testament of the Bible, particularly in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

According to Christian tradition, Jesus was born in Bethlehem to Mary and Joseph in a humble setting, as there was no room for them in the inn. The angel Gabriel had announced to Mary that she would conceive a child by the Holy Spirit, and Joseph, despite initial concerns, took Mary as his wife after an angelic visitation.

The Nativity story includes the presence of shepherds who were visited by angels announcing the birth of the Savior. The shepherds then went to see the newborn Jesus. Additionally, wise men or Magi from the East followed a star that led them to Bethlehem, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to honor the baby Jesus.

Christmas is widely observed by Christians around the world as a time of joy, celebration, and reflection on the significance of the birth of Jesus. 

The Santa Claus Christmas story is a blend of folklore, tradition, and commercial influence. The modern portrayal of Santa Claus is often associated with the following elements:

St. Nicholas: The figure of Santa Claus has roots in the historical figure of St. Nicholas, a Christian bishop from the 4th century known for his generosity and kindness, especially toward children.

Coca-Cola Influence: The popular image of Santa Claus as a jolly, bearded man in a red suit with white fur trim was popularized in the 20th century, particularly through the Coca-Cola Company's Christmas advertising campaigns. The iconic version of Santa in a red suit became a widely recognized symbol.

North Pole Residence: In the modern story, Santa Claus is said to live at the North Pole, where he and his team of elves work year-round to prepare for Christmas. The elves are often depicted as busy toy-makers, helping Santa fulfill his mission of delivering gifts to children around the world.

Reindeer and Sleigh: Santa is said to travel on Christmas Eve in a sleigh pulled by magical reindeer. The most famous reindeer is Rudolph, known for his red nose that lights the way in the dark.

Gift-Giving Tradition: Santa Claus is known for delivering gifts to well-behaved children on Christmas Eve. Children often write letters to Santa, detailing their wishes and good behavior throughout the year.

The Santa Claus story has become a central and beloved part of the Christmas tradition in many cultures. It has evolved over time, incorporating elements from various sources, and has become a cultural icon associated with the spirit of giving and joy during the holiday season. While rooted in historical and religious figures, the modern Santa Claus story has taken on a life of its own in popular culture.

Lisa Rose

SANTA (Saint Nicholas) 

December 25th


Don Francis


Cultural Celebration from December 26th to January 1st.


Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration that honors African heritage and culture. It was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor and scholar, as a way for African Americans to reconnect with their roots and to celebrate and promote unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

The name "Kwanzaa" is derived from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza," which means "first fruits." The celebration involves various rituals and activities, including: The Lighting of Kinara: a candleholder with seven candles - three red candles on the left, three green candles on the right, and a black candle in the center. Each candle represents one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, and one candle is lit each night.

The Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba): Each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the seven principles, known as Nguzo Saba. These principles are Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).

Celebration of Culture: Kwanzaa often includes activities such as storytelling, drumming, dance, and the wearing of traditional African clothing. Artistic expression and cultural appreciation play a significant role in the celebration.

Feasting and Gift-Giving: Families and communities come together for feasts during Kwanzaa, where traditional African foods may be served. Additionally, symbolic gifts, often handmade and educational, are exchanged.

Community and Family Gatherings: Kwanzaa emphasizes the importance of family and community. It is a time for reflection, discussion, and the strengthening of bonds within the community.

Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, but rather a cultural celebration that encourages reflection on values and principles. It has gained recognition and is celebrated by people of African descent around the world, not limited to the African American community.

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