Expand your holiday horizons by learning about different holiday traditions

Expand your holiday horizons by learning about different holiday traditions

Holidays a time of gathering at Native American Indian Center

Christmas is a celebration brought to America by the Europeans. But that doesn't mean that the end of December wasn't significant to the Native Americans, marked by the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year and a time to come together.

The Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio, at 67 E. Innis Ave., carries on that tradition with two ceremonies, hosting the Fall Harvest Feast in November and the Winter Gathering in December.

"We're the new face of native people today, and the goal is to acknowledge our presence here," says Ty Smith, the center's project director. "We numbered close to 90,000 in Ohio, but that's less than 1 percent of the state's population. But we represent in excess of 100 tribes. It's a very intertribal community across the state and into surrounding states."

Smith says approximately 200 Native Americans will come and go at the center throughout the Winter Gathering. "It's a time of family," Smith says. "There's a lot of love and spirituality involved in coming together."

And while traditions differ from tribe to tribe, Smith says the events serve as a time of sharing stories and cultures. "We encourage giving and selflessness," Smith says, "and we make the time and space for it."

Smith says the center provides meals for about 130 families during the Fall Harvest Feast and provides gifts to 100 children during the Winter Gathering.

Students celebrate African culture at Ohio State

Because Kwanzaa falls during Ohio State's holiday break each year, in 1985, Dr. Richard Kelsey and the Ohio State Black Graduate and Professional Student Caucus initiated a Pre-Kwanzaa Celebration on campus to expose students to African culture in America. The 31st annual celebration, held this year on Dec. 6 from 6–8 p.m. in the MLK Jr. Lounge at OSU's Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center, helps educate students and the community on the seven principles of Kwanzaa through a program that includes music, a speaker and food. "It is important to celebrate African culture in America to learn more about our history, our present and our future," says Phill Mayo, program manager of the cultural center's Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The event is free and open to the public.

Festival of Lights celebrates Jewish tradition

Since 2014, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus has hosted Chanuka at Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Open to the entire community, this year's celebration, on Dec. 28 from 6–8 p.m., takes place on the fifth night of Hanukkah and is a great chance for families of all backgrounds to participate in the Hanukkah season, says Mike Levison, the JCC's marketing director.

Festivities include sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), crafts, musical performances, a nature walk and dreidel spinning. There also will be the annual menorah candle lighting.

Since 2014, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus has hosted Chanuka at Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Open to the entire community, this year's celebration, on Dec. 28 from 6–8 p.m., takes place on the fifth night of Hanukkah and is a great chance for families of all backgrounds to participate in the Hanukkah season, says Mike Levison, the JCC's marketing director.

Festivities include sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), crafts, musical performances, a nature walk and dreidel spinning. There also will be the annual menorah candle lighting.