The Botta Bing Botta Boom Version of the December Line-up
Hanukkah (December 11th - 19th)
Jewish rebels overtake their religious oppressors and reclaim their temple, but only have one day's worth of consecrated oil to relight the eternal flame for the rededication -- dontcha just hate when that happens? As luck would have it, the oil burns for 8 days -- just long enough to whip up another batch. Hence the 8-day celebration and all those fried latkes!
Festivus (December 23rd)
A 1997 episode of Seinfeld mentions a fictitious alternative holiday called Festivus. Trappings and customs include an unadorned aluminum pole (a tree stand-in), the "Airing of Grievances," and "Feats of Strength." The concept catches on. Folks seeking a less commercial mode of celebration seize the ball and run with it. More on this worldwide phenomenon at www.festivusbook.com.
Christmas (December 25th)
Brace yourself for this new-to-us take on the origins of Xmas -- those Romans sure knew how to party!
Saturnalia, a week-long orgiastic festival in ancient Rome marked by heavy boozing, nude door-to-door singing, scarfing people-shaped biscuits -- and even human sacrifice -- is celebrated from December 17th - 25th. Christian leaders sanction the wildly popular free-for-all in an effort to convert the pagan masses. To lend a more religious air to the proceedings, the last day of Saturnalia, December 25th, is designated as the official day for commemorating Jesus' birth. For more alleged Xmas factoids with a decidedly alternative spin, visit simpletoremember.com. (This is by no means the final word, but it sure makes for spicy reading -- and the salient points were corroborated with other online sources.)
Kwanzaa (December 26th - January 1st)
In 1966, during the Black Freedom Movement, an activist-scholar with a controversial past, Dr. Maulana Karenga (aka Ron Karenga, Ron Everett), creates Kwanzaa to unify African Americans through celebration of their heritage and culture. The 7-day, non-religious holiday revolves around The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa (unity, self-determination, collective work & responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith). Read insightful Kwanzaa commentary at the Blackscientist blog.