Candles are important during the holiday season. They represent both religious and nonspiritual winter events. People interpret their meaning in many different ways. Some associate candles with the Yuletide. The winter solstice celebrations date back for centuries. Celebrators think the warm glow of candles shows spring is on its way. Others view candles as a family’s guiding light. This comes from several ancient traditions. Christians equate candles with the guiding star of Bethlehem. Jews light a Hanukiah during Hanukkah. During Kwanzaa, the central symbol is a candelabra of special colored candles.
For Christians, the star of Bethlehem guided the Three Wise Men from the East to baby Jesus. The Magi wanted to honor the newborn king of the Jews with gifts and prayers. Because of this, Christians use candles during Christmas services to remember Jesus is ‘the Light of the World.’
Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Light
The Greek King Antiochus tried to make the Jewish people bow down in front of a statue of him that had been placed in front of the Jewish temple. Antilchus told the Jewish people to pray to the Greek gods. The Jewish people refused. This lead to a three-year war in which the Jews won. To celebrate the victory, an oil lamp was lit inside the repaired temple. There was only enough oil for one day, but the light burned for eight days. Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, reminds Jews of this event. During Hanukkah an eight-branched candlestick called a Hanukiah is lit as a reminder of the miracle of the oil burning for eight days instead of one.
Kwanzaa is an African-American cultural festival held from December 26 to January 1. Founded in 1966, Kwanzaa celebrates African-Americans and their ancestry. The central symbol of Kwanzaa is a candelabra called a kinara that holds one black, three red and three green candles. The candles are lighted in a particular order until the final day when all seven candles burn. Each candle has a special meaning.
Activity #1 Videos
Video #1 – The Christmas Story
Video #2 – Guided Drawing
This exceptional video illustrates how to turn the word ‘menorah’ into a drawing.
Video #3 Learn about Hanukkah [Chanukah]
This video tells the stories of the Greek King Antiochus.
Video #4 Kwanzaa
This 6 minute video from Mojo provides facts about Kwanzaa in a fun way.
Video #5 Holiday Greeting
A chain reaction machine which pushes holiday symbols representing Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa wishes everyone a happy holiday.
Have students learn about the symbolism of candles during December celebrations using this fun printable. Follow these simple instructions to complete the foldable organizers.
- First print the two pages onto colored paper.Cut out the shapes.
- Next fold inward on the dotted lines.
- Dot glue on the middle part of the back.
- Attach to a notebook.
- Finally students writes about the symbols inside each shape.