Christmas is the most widely celebrated holiday in the United States, popping up in stores as soon as late October. Christmas is so focused on that the other holidays, such as Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, can often be unfairly overlooked and underappreciated. Read on for tips on easy, inclusive DIY decorations to celebrate all cultures and traditions during this festive season.
Handing out Hanukkah
The holiday celebrates the Israeli Jewish people prevailing against the Syrian-Greeks with eight days of prayers, gift giving, and eating of delicious fried foods. To make your holiday home more festive, blue construction paper cut out in the shape of a dreidel can be displayed around the house on tables with considerate words written on them. “Blue and white are used because they’re the colors of the Israeli flag,” says Jem Sugnet, who celebrates Hanukkah. Another way to fancify your abode is to spray paint evergreen branches silver and gold colors, tie them together with blue ribbon, and put them in vases around the house to represent the classic colors.
Crafting for Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa is a holiday that was started around the time of the civil rights movement to bring people together by implementing parts of African culture. The Berenda is the Black National Flag, featuring red, black and green. “It’s a celebration of African culture, and so it’s very important to include those colors of their culture. You’ll even see people dressed in those colors,” says University of Oregon student Jermaine Harris. With African American heritage, Jermaine has spent a lot of time learning about Kwanzaa and witnessing celebrations. A nice subtle decoration that is fun to make with family or friends are beaded napkin holders in the color of the Berenda. All you need for this is some string and some black, red, and green colored beads. Another easy decoration are mini Berenda flags made with construction paper decked up on a string to hang in hallways or on porches.
Getting Ready for Ganapati
Pancha Ganapati is a Hindu holiday celebrating Ganesha with five days of gift giving in December. This holiday focuses on appreciation of nature, so a great decoration to tie that in is putting pine boughs around the house. It is also a time to forgive and enjoy the loved ones we are blessed enough to spend time with during the holidays, so be sure to send your mom a text to let her know you love her. During Ganapati, a different color is used to decorate the Ganesha shrine over the five days, and incense is lit to beautify and cleanse the home. Pick up your favorite incense smell to waft through the house while you decorate with yellow, blue, red, green and orange (in that order) bulbs or ribbons on the tree.
The Real Saint Nick
You might wonder where the idea of Santa Claus came from, but you probably wouldn’t guess that the inspiration came from a generous Christian man in Turkey. In Europe, children leave their shoes outside their door overnight to be filled with presents. Some great decorations for this holiday could be coloring pages of old wooden styled Dutch shoes with detailed patterns that you could print out, color, and then hang on the wall for decoration. Celebrators leave out straw for the horse that Saint Nicholas rides on so everyone has some snacks to go around. Take a small bundle of straw, tie a ribbon or raffia around it and place on a coffee table or counter as a festive centerpiece or accent.
The best way to create a more inclusive atmosphere during this winter season is to have an open mind about other celebrations, and to try to learn more about them. Adding multicultural decor to your annual ‘decking of the halls’ can help provide an open space so that you can develop a better understanding (and therefore, appreciation) about other people’s cultures.