The Holiday Season

15 Dec 2012

December is holiday time. And there are many different traditions to be celebrated. All of them have something to do with celebrations of light. Fitting, as this is the beginning of the dark time of year.

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is the Festival of Light. It commemorates the rebellion of Judah and the Maccabees, and their victory in retaking the temple at Jerusalem. During the cleansing of the temple, they managed to find only a single unsealed jar of oil, enough for a single day. Miraculously, the lamp is said to have remained alight for eight days.

Kwanzaa has its roots in the black nationalist movement of the 1960s. It is the first African-American holiday. While the exact origins and relations back to Africa are the subject of controversy, the principles are worthwhile: Umoja (Unity), Kujchagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujama (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), Imani (Faith). Among the symbols of Kwanzaa are the kinara, a candle holder with seven candles.

For Christians who celebrate Christmas, lights clearly play a key role. Christmas trees are festooned with multi-colord twinkles, or single shades of white or color. Houses are draped inside and out with lights in all manner of colors, shapes, and sizes.

New Year’s Eve 2009 in Boston, from Brian Burt’s Photoblog.

And New Year’s Eve is often celebrated with fireworks at the stroke of midnight. In Boston, the celebration lasts all day long, with musical performances, parades, ice sculptures, dancing, and more. The culmination occurs at midnight near Boston Harbor, as the countdown is projected onto the Customs House Tower, and fireworks over the harbor. And half the country watches Times Square as the ball slowly descends to the New Year.

Hopefully during these time of celebrations of light, you will have some time to get some genealogy searches done. Holiday gatherings are a great time to trade family stories. You can share your research, and others can share their family stories with you, providing you new avenues to research. Need an easy place to start searching for your ancestors online? Try searching for them in the Social Security Death Index.

No matter what holidays you celebrate, or what traditions you uphold, enjoy this time with your family and friends. The entire Mocavo team wishes you all the best for the season, and will be here to help you follow up on your new clues when the holidays are over.