Hosting a delightful opportunity to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, the American pavilion at Epcot is our final stop on this tour of traditions known as Holidays around the World. In front of the attractions entrance displays call to attention the celebrations of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.
Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, celebrates the Jewish re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Over the course of eight days (December 24th through January 2nd this year) a single candle is lit on the menorah; the ninth candle is (known as the attendant or shamash) is used to light the other eight. Special prayers are recited each night a candle is lit. This eight day/eight candle ceremony commemorates the miracle of a one day supply of oil used to light the temple’s menorah having lasted a full 8 days. As such fried treats such as the latke (a potato pancake) and sufganya (a jelly filled doughnut) are enjoyed at this time.
Kwanzaa, the youngest of the seasonal celebrations (created in 1966) is the week long holiday (December 26th through January 1st) honoring African heritage. Seven principles (Nguzo Saba) are attributed to each of the seven days of Kwanzaa: Umoja (unity), Kujchagulia (self-determination, Ujima (collective work and responsibility, Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith). The celebration culminates on the seventh day with feasting and gift-giving.
America is a melting pot of immigrants from all over the world; their winter wonderland of holiday traditions is what makes Christmas what it is today. This season of peace on earth and goodwill toward man can be seen as the central theme of love harmony and caring echoed through all the various incarnations of this festive time of year. We hope you enjoyed this primer on the various holiday customs from around the world. Thanks to the Walt Disney Company and the nations of Epcot’s World Showcase, a bit of December diversity can be enjoyed by all.
Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays from your friends at Inside the Magic!