Winter Holidays Reflect Our Diversity — And Our Unity
As OneCoolSys, we are proud of the diversity of our team and the many cultures and communities we represent. The month of December is a time for traditions, celebrations, and holidays. Here’s some great information about some of the holidays of our CoolSys family celebrate.
Hanukkah: November 28 to December 6, 2021 (dates vary by year)
Hanukkah – Hebrew for “dedication” – is a Jewish holiday based on the story of the menorah (a lampstand) in the Second Temple of Jerusalem that burned for eight days, despite having only a single day’s supply of oil. The temple had just been rededicated to God following the Maccabean Revolt, during which the Jews defeated the much larger Greek-Syrian army that oppressed them. The oil lasting for eight days was seen as a miracle and, thus, Hanukkah was born.
During each of Hanukkah’s eight nights, one candle on the hanukkiah (a type of menorah used specifically for Hanukkah) is lit by the Shamash candle, a ninth candle used to ignite the others. A recitation of special blessings accompanies the nightly lighting ceremony. Traditional foods, such as potato pancakes called latkes and jelly-filled donuts called sufganiyot, are fried in oil to commemorate the miracle of the oil in the menorah. Many Jewish families exchange gifts – one per night for eight nights.
Toy spinning tops called dreidels are common during Hanukkah. Each of the top’s four sides is labeled with a Hebrew letter. These four letters, nun, gimel, hei and shin, represent an acronym for a Jewish phrase that means “A miracle happened there.” To play dreidel, each player bets coins, nuts, candy or some other prize. How much of the pot you claim depends on which side the dreidel lands when you spin it.
Christmas: December 25
These days, it’s easy to feel like Christmas is just two months of the year when everyone airs their hot takes on Hallmark movies, consumerism, ugly sweaters, Black Friday, how early is too early to put up a tree, and holiday ads that dare to evolve with the times. But Christmas originated with the story of Jesus’ birth in a manger; for Christians across the world, that remains the reason for the season.
For nearly two millennia, people have celebrated Christmas in both sacred and secular ways. Today, it is a worldwide religious, cultural, and commercial phenomenon. Christians celebrate Christmas Day to commemorate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. December 25 has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870.
Despite its commercialization over the past few decades, Christmas remains a time for family, love, coziness, expressions of joy and an opportunity to suspend our differences and come together.
Kwanzaa: December 26 to January 1
Kwanzaa is a weeklong holiday that honors African heritage in communities in the United States, Canada and the Western African Diaspora. Created by Maulana Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa is named after a Swahili phrase meaning “first fruits.” The celebration honors seven symbols. The first is a placemat upon which the other six symbols – a candleholder (called a kinara), seven candles, crops, corn, a unity cup, and gifts – sit. Other important elements of the celebration include the black, red and green Bendera flag – whose colors represent the people, the struggle and the hope that results from their struggle – colorful decorations, African works of art, reading and recitation of the African Pledge.
Each of the seven nights of Kwanzaa includes a candle-lighting ceremony using the kinara. Attendees light a candle representing one of Kwanzaa’s seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work/responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. On the last day, there is a feast and gift exchange. The celebration of Kwanzaa is intended to direct participants to reflect upon and celebrate their community’s culture and contributions to society at large.
No matter how you choose to celebrate the holiday season, one thing all of these traditions have in common is togetherness. We wish you a happy holiday season together with the ones you love!