With the holiday season in full swing, do other cultures have different traditions or stories? One thing that may be consistent across cultures and traditions is that children and families are a large part of the celebrations.
In Italy, there is the legend and song about Dominick the Donkey. The song is based on a legend that says that Santa cannot climb all the mountains that are in and around Italy. Because of this, Santa needs help from someone or an animal that can climb over the mountains in time to deliver the presents to the children that deserve it (Fun Trivia). This is where Dominick the Donkey comes into play. Dominick the Donkey is able to climb up and down all the mountain ranges without getting tired. “The song is loosely based on Italian folklore, but since the release of this song, Dominick has become a very popular holiday figure” (Fun Trivia). Throughout Italy, the legend and song are so popular that the image of Dominick the Donkey is seen as the holiday image that Santa is in America (Fun Trivia).
In Mexico, there are different traditions and legends revolving around giving gifts. “On Christmas Day children are blindfolded and taken to try and break a decorated clay piñata…once the piñata is broken, the children clamber to recover the candy” (Christmas in Mexico). This holiday tradition has made its way into other cultures as a way to celebrate many occasions, especially birthdays.
There is the celebration of Hanukkah which lasts for eight days. How did this celebration come about? Hanukkah is an eight day celebration in honor of “a great Jewish military victory and a miraculous supply of oil for the Temple” (Fellowship). Both events happened around the same time, and helped to re-establish a religious practice that was outlawed.
“Although Hanukkah celebrates a military victory, its major symbol — the Hanukkah menorah, or hanukkiah — reminds us of the miracle of the oil. As the Jews purified the Holy Temple, they found only one flask of the oil for the eternal lamp — enough to keep it burning for just one day. But a miracle occurred, and the oil lasted eight days and nights until more oil could be brought from afar. That miracle explains why we celebrate Hanukkah for eight days and also why Hanukkah is called the Festival of Lights” (Fellowship).
As time went on, Hanukkah became a time to spend with friends and family. To make food, give gifts, and make holiday traditions. “Hanukkah is a time to celebrate with family and friends, to eat yummy holiday treats, to give gifts (especially to children) and to play the dreidel game” (Fellowship). And being friends and family is the whole reason to have a holiday celebration.
This holiday season marks a special time filled with many traditions and time spent together. Enjoy the season; for it will be gone as quickly as it arrived!
Submitted by Erin Schiels
Fun Trivia. Christmas. Retrieved from www.funtrivia.com/en/subtopics/Holiday-Characters-From-Around-the-World-331976.htm. December 7, 2013.
International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Hanukkah. Retrieved from http://www.ifcj.org/site/PageNavigator/eng/inside/hanukkah. December 9, 2013.
Santa’s Net. Christmas Traditions Around the World: Christmas in Mexico. Retrieved from www.santas.net/mexicanchristmas.htm. December 7, 2013.