When is Hanukkah? How to celebrate Yule, Samhain and Kwanzaa- and who celebrates each festival

December doesn't just mark the month of Christmas- there are plenty of other global festivities to enjoy next month.

Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 11:44 am

With Christmas just around the corner it's important to remember the range of other festivities that also take place during December.

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From Hannukah to Yule, Kwanzaa to Samhain, these are some of the holidays taking place around Christmastime and how you can celebrate them.

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December doesn't just mark the month of Christmas- there are plenty of other global festivities to enjoy next month.

What is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is an 8 day Jewish festival that kicks off on the 25th day of the month of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar.

This year, it falls on Sunday 28 November until Monday 6 December.

The festival is celebrated in several ways including the lighting of the menorah (a candlestick with nine branches), daily readings of scriptures, recitation of some of the Psalms, almsgiving and the singing of a special hymn.

What is Yuletide?

Yule, or Yuletide, has pagan roots and is celebrated mainly by Germanic people.

It is closely linked to Christmas with people congregating for meals and gift giving across the festive holiday.

Common ways to celebrate Yuletide include meditation, decorating a Yule tree and giving nature-based gifts to friends and family.

What is Samhain?

Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter or "darker-half" of the year.

It is held on 1 November but with celebrations beginning on the evening of 31 October, since the Celtic day began and ended at sunset.

Although it is closely linked to Halloween they are not the same thing.

Samhain is mainly celebrated by Wiccans and there are many ways in which the festival is enjoyed today, including with dance celebrations called Witches' Balls.

What is Kwanzaa?

Kwanzaa is a secular festival celebrated by many African Americans.

It runs from 26 December to 1 January and is a celebration of their cultural heritage and traditional values.

Though often thought of as an alternative to Christmas, many people actually celebrate both.

Ways to celebrate the festival include drumming and musical selections, readings of the African Pledge and the Principles of Blackness and the candle-lighting ritual of the Kinara.

The festival culminates in a communal feast called Karamu, usually held on the 6th day.

What is Festivus?

Festivus entered our vocabulary after the popular episode of the American sitcom Seinfeld titled 'The Strike'.

The parody holiday is meant to revolt against the consumerism of Christmas, and is celebrated by standing around a metal pole instead of a Christmas tree.

Although unconventional it is still celebrated by groups in the UK 20 years on.

Why do we celebrate Boxing Day?

Boxing Day is a bank holiday or public holiday that became official in 1871.

The name comes from a time when the rich used to box up gifts to give to the poor.

It was also traditionally a day off for servants, and the day when they received a special Christmas box from their masters.

The servants would go home on Boxing Day to give Christmas boxes to their families.

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