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Holidays Around the World!

December 1, 2011

Where better to celebrate the individuality of all cultures and learn more about what makes us all unique than the melting pot of Chicago!

Navy Pier wants to broaden horizons and bridge gaps by sharing a short summary of some of the traditions and holidays celebrated across the world as well as in our great city by people from all different backgrounds. Christmas may be the most well known, but we’re betting some of these following holiday celebrations will peak your interest too!


Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration that has its roots in the Black Nationalist movement of the 1960s. This newly-popular holiday traditions was established as a means of celebrating African American culture to help African American’s reconnect with their historical heritage.  Families celebrating Kwanzaa decorate their homes with objects of art and fresh fruit that signify African culture and colorful cloths, such as a kente or a kaftan, are worn by men and women.


Hanukkah’s origins are a topic of much debate, but the traditional view of Hanukkah and its celebration comes from the Second Temple in Jerusalem.  The temple was looted and its services stopped due to the outlaw of Judaism by then King, Antiochus.  The king’s actions provoked a large revolt that led to the rededication of the Temple. Today’s Jewish community observes Hanukkah for 8 days and 8 nights in celebration of the rededication of the Second Temple.  During this time, a Menorah is lit one candle at a time.  A Menorah consists of 8 branches with an additional branch above or below all the others.  This extra branch is used to light the candles, as using the other candles is prohibited. During this time the Jewish community comes together to remember and celebrate their Jewish tradition.


Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is celebrated by many cultures around the world.  For Hindus, it signifies the victory of good over evil.  The five-day celebration signifies the awareness of the inner light, which correlates with Atman, the Hindu belief that there is something beyond the physical body that is pure and eternal.  Candles are lit and symbolic paper lanterns and decorations made from colored powder are hung to signify the light within each individual.

And that concludes our quick trip around the world. We barely scratched the surface of the different holidays celebrated around the world, but hopeful you continue your search and share a new holiday tradition with your family this year!


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