Wow, the holidays are upon us already! As you gather with friends and family to honor this special time of year, it's a great time to learn and enjoy some of the musical traditions around the many celebrations happening across the globe.

Hanukkah

This year Hanukkah began the evening of December 16 and continues through the evening of December 24. Also known as The Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration honoring the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire of the 2nd century BCE.

As part of this celebration, it is customary to play games with a dreidel, a pointed, four-sided top that can be made to spin on its pointed base. To accompany this game, families sing "The Dreidel Song"; check out this wonderful rendition by the a capella group Shir Soul (http://youtu.be/DtlLHwk9_Rw):


Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa begins on December 26 and ends on January 1. This celebration honors African-American culture, and the name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning "first fruits of the harvest."

During this week-long celebration, families decorate their homes with African objects of art, colorful African cloth such as kente, and fresh fruits to represent African idealism. To get in the Kwanzaa spirit and learn more about the holiday, enjoy this performance of "The Kwanzaa Song" from the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church Youth Choir (http://youtu.be/kS9d9eGAo2g):


Christmas

Christmas Day is December 25. This is the annual holiday on which Christians honor the birth of Jesus Christ. As described in the Christian Bible, Jesus was born to the virgin Mary, who had traveled to town of Bethlehem with her husband Joseph for a census. As there was no room at the inn, the young mother gave birth to Jesus in a manger, above which a great star appeared to herald the coming of the Savior.

Christmas is the source of a rich musical tradition, and one of the most beloved carols is "Silent Night," as performed beautifully by the a capella group Pentatonix (http://youtu.be/sme8N2pzRx8):


Your turn! What is your favorite holiday musical tradition? Please leave a comment and let us know what you're thankful for — we'd love to hear from you!