It’s that time of year again. The holidays are here! No matter what you celebrate and how you’re able to do so during the pandemic, it is still a really nice time of the year. At the very least, it means 2020 is almost over, and the New Year has to be better than this one. And of course, that means it’s time for some fun facts!
So let’s take a look at several holidays celebrated this time of year.
Fun Facts About Hanukkah
Here are some fun Hanukkah facts from etonline.com:
- In 2020, Hanukkah began at sundown on Thursday, Dec. 10, and lasted through sundown on Friday, Dec. 18.
- The holiday can be spelled Hanukkah, Chanukah, Hanukah. These are all English transliterations for the Hebrew word, so no matter how you spell it, you’re all good!
- The word “Hanukkah” translates to dedication. Each year, Hanukkah marks the rededication of the second temple in Jerusalem, when the Maccabees stood up against Antiochus and reclaimed their temple from the Greeks.
- Hanukkah never falls on the same date every year on our calendar, but that’s just because the Gregorian calendar and the Jewish calendar aren’t in sync. Hanukkah is technically on the same day every year though – the 25th day of the month of Kislev on the Jewish calendar.
- Hanukkah lasts for eight days, and it’s also called the Festival of Lights, because when the Maccabees relit the menorah at the Second Temple, they thought they only had enough oil for the lamps to last for one night, but they miraculously burned for eight nights.
- On Hanukkah, a menorah called a Hanukkiah that holds nine candles is used. Eight arms represent each night of the holiday, while the ninth is the shamash, or the main candle that lights the others.
- Dreidel is a game in which you can win “gelt” – either chocolate coins or real coins. There are four Hebrew letters featured on each side of the dreidel: nun, gimmel, hay and shin. The four are an abbreviation for the Hebrew phrase Nes gadol haya sham, or “a great miracle happened there,” in honor of the rededication of the Temple.
- Many scholars believe the dreidel was derived from teetotum, the English version of a top, and when it made its way to Germany, it was popularized by children there during holiday celebrations, where it was called drehen, or “to spin.” Eventually, Yiddish speakers changed the name to dreidel, and over time, the top began to acquire symbolism connecting it to Hanukkah.
- Arguably the most popular modern Hanukkah song is Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song,” which made its debut on Saturday Night Live in 1994.
Fun Facts About Christmas
And the following Christmas fun facts are also from etonline.com:
- Germans are thought to be the first to bring “Christmas trees” into their homes during the holidays and decorate them with cookies and lights.
- The Christmas tree made its way to America in the 1830s but wasn’t popular until 1846, after Germany’s Prince Albert brought it to England when he married Queen Victoria. The two were sketched in front of a Christmas tree and the tradition instantly became popular.
- Santa Claus comes from St. Nicholas, a Christian bishop living in (what is now) Turkey in the fourth century A.D. St. Nicholas had inherited a great deal of wealth and was known for giving it away to help the needy. When sainted, he became the protector of children.
- After his death, the legend of St. Nicholas spread. St. Nick’s name became Sint-Nicolaas in Dutch, or Sinter Klaas for short. Which led to Santa Claus.
- Santa Claus delivering presents comes from Holland’s celebration of St. Nicholas’ feast day on Dec. 6. Children would leave shoes out the night before and, in the morning, would find little gifts that St. Nicholas would leave them.
- One of the reasons we leave milk and cookies for Santa is because Dutch kids would leave food and drink for St. Nicholas on his feast day.
- And stockings come from this story: A poor man with three daughters couldn’t afford the dowry to have them married. One night, St. Nicholas dropped a bag of gold down the man’s chimney so that his oldest daughter would be able to get married, and the bag fell into a stocking that was drying by the fire.
- Though Santa Claus has worn blue and white and green in the past, his traditional red suit came from a 1930s ad by Coca Cola.
- And the image of him flying in a sleigh started in 1819…and was dreamt up by the same author who created the Headless Horseman, Washington Irving.
- The first batch of eggnog in America was crafted at Captain John Smith’s Jamestown settlement in 1607, and the name eggnog comes from the word “grog,” which refers to any drink made with rum.
- “Silent Night” is the most-recorded Christmas song in history, with over 733 different versions copyrighted since 1978.
- “White Christmas” is the best-selling song of all time.
Fun Facts About Kwanzaa
Beginning December 26 and lasting for seven days, Kwanzaa is a celebration of community, family and culture, established as a means to help African Americans reconnect with their African roots and heritage. Here are some fun facts about Kwanzaa from pbs.org:
- Kwanzaa celebrated its 50th Birthday in 2016. The holiday was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 to celebrate family, culture and heritage, and is modeled after the first harvest celebrations in Africa.
- There are 7 Principles and 7 Primary Symbols that emphasize a unique set of values and ideals during the 7 days of Kwanzaa … also spelled with 7 letters.
- With over 2000 languages spoken on the African continent, Kwanzaa adopted one of the many unifying languages, Swahili, which is spoken by millions on the African continent. The name Kwanzaa comes from a Swahili phrase meaning “first fruits.”
- The colors of Kwanzaa are a reflection of the Pan-African movement representing “unity” for peoples of African descent worldwide: Black for the people, red for the noble blood that unites all people of African ancestry, and green for the rich land of Africa.
- The first US postage stamp to commemorate Kwanzaa was issued in 1997. There have been 5 designs released since then, the most recent being in 2016.
- Kwanzaa is rooted in African culture; however, people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds are welcomed to join in the celebration.
Record Your Holiday Purchases
No matter what you celebrate, please remember to record everything you purchase.
PSC Holiday Hours
The Panel Support Center will be closed on Thursday, December 24th and Christmas Day, December 25th.
In addition, the PSC will be closing at 5:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, December 31st, and will be closed all day on January 1, 2021.
Finally, we all know this has been one crazy year. All of us at NCP wish you nothing but the best. Please take time to enjoy your holiday!
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