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Daily English 112 - Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa

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The holidays in my family are very diverse. Our custom is to celebrate Christmas every year as a religious observance, complete with Advent wreathes and Midnight Mass. Most of my in-laws observe Christmas purely as a secular holiday, with the focus on exchanging gifts, stockings, a Christmas tree, and other traditional customs. There is a lot of listening to Christmas music‚ and my favorites are the carols sung by Nat King Cole‚ and sometimes even some eggnog. My nieces and nephews enjoy the day the most, especially when they get to open the gifts under the tree from Santa Claus.

One of my brother-in-laws is Jewish, and so he celebrates Hanukkah, the festival of lights, when he lights a candle each of the eight nights on the menorah. My niece gets a small gift each night of Hanukkah and of course spins the dreidel. With both celebrations in the same family, we sometimes call it Chrismukkah.

But the holidays are no longer just Christmas and Hanukkah in the United States. More recently, there are some people who celebrate a new holiday, Kwanzaa. This is a mostly African-American event, with parades and other parties to highlight African-American heritage. Started here in Los Angeles, this celebration runs for 1 week after Christmas, and is a mostly secular celebration.

Whatever tradition you celebrate, December is always a festive time of year.

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