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What Do You Celebrate?


In the stretch from November through January, there are so many holiday celebrations that are important to cultures around the globe. Here are some of the major holidays that people in Lexington will be celebrating during the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! (For fun, we’ve included some movie recommendations – from serious to silly – that either depicts the holiday in some way or capture its spirit.)

Diwali • November 2-6

Known as a festival of lights, Diwali is celebrated by Hindu, Jain, Sikhs and many Buddhist people. During these five days, homes are decorated with oil lamps (diya) and rangnoli, colorful art created with sand and colored minerals. Candles, fireworks, lamps, fairy lights, and more symbolize the victory of light over darkness. Participants dress in their finest clothes and celebrate over family feasts, trading sweets and enjoying gifts. The celebration on Thursday, November 4th is the most widely observed.

Suggested Viewing: Happy New Year (2014),
Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham... (2001), Mohabbatein (2000)

Thanksgiving • November 25

Established as a holiday in 1863, this celebration focuses on the giving of thanks and prayer for the bounty of the harvest season. Many countries have thanksgiving celebrations, but American Thanksgiving is a uniquely defined tradition with turkey and pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and gravy boats. From the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade to football, it’s a celebration all our own. On the fourth Thursday of November, we gather around a table to express our gratitude – and maybe rib our relatives about their love lives.

Suggested Viewing: Home for the Holidays (1995), Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987),
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)

Hanukkah • November 28 - December 6

The Jewish Festival of Lights is celebrated for eight nights and days. The lighting of the menorah honors the miracle of the menorah that burned for eight days during the Maccabees revolt, despite only having the oil to last for one. Observants eat foods often fried in oil, such as latkes and sufganiyot. Small gifts are exchanged each night, and children play games, such as spinning the dreidel.

Suggested Viewing: Eight Crazy Nights (2002), Full-Court Miracle (2003), Double Holiday (2019)

Advent • November 28 - December 24

Advent is the Christian time of reflection and celebration of the Nativity of Christ. Many people are familiar with Advent calendars, a tradition that often included reading snippets of the story of Jesus’s birth leading up to Christmas Eve. Some churches hold hanging of the greens ceremonies, where the church is often dressed up for Christmas using evergreens, lights, and other Christmas decorations.

Suggested Viewing: The Holiday Calendar (2018),
The First Christmas (1975), A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Winter Solstice/Yule • December 21

The first day of winter is when the earth’s axis is tilted to its furthest point away from the sun. For the Northern Hemisphere, that falls on December 21st or 22nd each year. This is the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. Since even Neolithic times, people noticed this shift and celebrated it by welcoming light into their homes. Ever heard of a Yule log? The solstice is the night to burn it, looking forward to days slowly growing longer.

Suggested Viewing: Winter’s Tale (2014), Serendipity (2001), Frozen (2013)

Christmas Eve/Day • December 24 - December 25

Ho ho ho! Christmas is a festival celebrating the birth of Jesus in the Christian tradition. For many families, it’s a time to gather around a decorated evergreen tree, open gifts, and celebrate togetherness. From Nativity plays to sitting on Santa’s lap, there are so many wonderful ways to celebrate this holiday. About 9 in 10 Americans celebrates Christmas in some way, so you probably won’t be able to turn a corner without feeling the Christmas spirit!

Suggested Viewing: Elf (2003), Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Kwanzaa • December 26 - January 1

First celebrated in 1966, this 6-day festival celebrates African-American culture. Each day honors one of seven principles, which include Self-Determination or Collective Work and Responsibility. The kinara bears seven candlesticks which represent those principles.

Suggested Viewing: Black Candle (2008), A Rugrats Kwanzaa Special (2001),
The Proud Family (Season 1, Episode 11)

New Year’s Eve/Day • December 31 - January 1

Honoring the end of the year is a tradition that has existed as long as people have been tracking time. Every culture has its own set of traditions and superstitions surrounding this day, but in the US, it wouldn’t be a NYE without a glittery ball being “dropped” to count down the turning of the calendar.

Suggested Viewing: Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (1976), New Year’s Eve (2011), An American in Paris (1951)

Happy Holidays!