December is here, which means people the world over are captivated by the spectacle of Christmas and the coming new year. However, the moniker December has as the holiday season is not for nothing as several other holidays take place this month, here a just a few of them to know about.
Pearl Harbor Day, is held on Dec. 7, and honors those who lost their lives in the 1941 attack on an American naval base done by Imperial Japanese forces. What many people don’t know is that Pearl Harbor was not the only thing attacked on that date; naval bases in Hong Kong, Midway, and Oahu were also attacked. The attack was the justification the U.S. needed to enter into World War 2, as congress declared war in Japan a day later. The declaration was seen as controversial because Roosevelt repeatedly stated America had no intentions of entering into World War 2. Although it is estimated that there are less than 100 survivors left, Pearl Harbor still occupies a space within the American conscious.
Forefather’s Day, celebrated on Dec. 22, commemorates the day in which the pilgrims of England boarded the Mayflower and landed on Plymouth Rock and established the colony of Massachusetts Bay. While the holiday is most popular in New England, it is celebrated by Mayflower descendants nationwide; an estimated 3% of the US population, or 10 million Americans can trace their roots back to Mayflower. The holiday was established by The Old Colony Club, a civic organization founded by the old stock of Plymouth in 1769. Today the club commemorates the day by organizing a festival in Plymouth consisting of a recitation of the Mayflower Compact given on top of Cole’s Hill and finishing with the firing of a canon. The most common festivity on Forefather’s Day is to eat a dinner of the succotash; a porridge-like dish made primarily from corn, lima beans, and okra the dish is purported to be similar to what the colonists would have eaten during their first supper in Plymouth.
Kwanzaa is celebrated from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 was started by black separatist, Maulana Karenga, as a means for African Americans to break away from the white Christian holiday of Christmas. The holiday takes course over the course of seven days, with each day representing a tenant of the Pan-Africanist concept of the Nguzo Saba (Swahili for the Seven Principle). The principles consist of Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). Each day starts with the lighting of a central candle, whose flame is then used to light the candle which represents the principle of a given day, similar to the Jewish lighting of the menorah on Hanukah. However, Kwanzaa practitioners make us of a traditional African kinara. Kwanzaa culminates on the seventh day, with a feast amongst everyone in the community called a Karamu. There is no set tradition of what should be served at a Karamu, leading to no two Karamu feasts being alike.