SOURCE: History.com

December 04, 2007 08:00 ET

Christmas Trees, Menorahs and First Fruits All in One Place! History.com Presents: The History of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa

History, Facts, Videos and More About Your Favorite December Holidays

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - December 4, 2007) - Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are the three biggest holidays celebrated during the month of December and perhaps all year. Whether you rejoice for eight days, seven days or one -- each holiday has a unique history that brings together family and friends for celebration. These holidays are not just about gifts and good times but are traditions with deep historical roots. History.com has three websites dedicated to providing an entertaining and informative take that holiday lovers will appreciate about the true traditions of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, which can be found at http://www.History.com/holidays.

Highlights of The Christmas History include:

-- An Outlaw Christmas - Did you know that celebrating Christmas was outlawed in Boston from 1659-1681? It wasn't until June 26, 1870 that Christmas was declared a federal holiday.

-- World Traditions - God Jul means Merry Christmas in Sweden. In Finland, it is customary to visit gravesites of deceased family members on Christmas. People in Southern France burn a log from Christmas Eve until New Year's to ensure good luck for the following year's harvest.

-- The Real Santa - The legend of St. Nick can be traced back to a monk named St. Nicolas who was born in 280 A.D. St. Nicolas was known for being generous and providing help to the sick and poor. At the end of the century he was known for his yellow tights and blue, three-cornered hat.

-- Starlight, Starbright - Germany is the country credited for starting the tradition of the Christmas tree in the 16th century. But, where did the lights come from? Martin Luther, a Protestant reformer, was amazed by the twinkling stars amidst the evergreens and decided to put candles on the branches of his tree.

Highlights of The History of Hanukkah include:

-- Light The Menorah - Hanukkah honors the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jews' victory over the Hellenist Syrians. When the Jews returned to their temple they wanted to celebrate, but only found enough oil to light the menorah for one day. Amazingly the oil lasted for eight days.

-- My Dreidel I Will Play - Menorahs, latkes, dreidels and sufganiyot are all a part of Hanukkah's customs. The dreidel, which is used to play games during Hanukkah, is a four-sided top with a Hebrew letter inscribed on each side. The letters, in English, spell out, "A Great Miracle Happened There."

-- Hanukkah Wonders - In 1997, a menorah was built in Jerusalem that was more than 60-feet tall, weighed 17 metric tons and took up 600-square meters. Each night a rabbi had to be lifted by crane to light the candles.

Highlights of The History of Kwanzaa include:

-- First Fruit - Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga after the Watts riots in Los Angeles. Dr. Karenga wanted a way to bring African-Americans together as a community. The name Kwanzaa means "fresh fruits."

-- Nguzo Saba - The seven principles known as Nguzo Saba are a seat of ideals. Each day of Kwanzaa highlights a different principle. The seven principles are: unity, self-determination, collective work, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

-- Mazao, Kekea and Mishumaa Saba - Mazao, which is fruits, nuts and vegetables, is one of the seven symbols of Kwanzaa. Mazao symbolizes the historical foundation of Kwanzaa which revolves around sharing, unity and joy. Other symbols include: an ear of corn, the seven candles and the unity cup.

About History.com

History.com is the definitive historical online resource that delivers entertaining and informative content through interactive timelines; video; maps; games; podcasts and RSS feeds. History.com delivers thousands of video streams; from presidential speeches, to UFO sightings, to D-Day, the award-winning site will showcase newly created video clips daily. Web exclusive broadband video content has been developed from popular series and specials on The History Channel including Ice Road Truckers, Human Weapon, Dogfights, Modern Marvels, and The Universe. Search through History.com which provides access to an extraordinary amount of historical information with unprecedented speed. In addition, an online classroom will supply educational resources including study guides and lesson plans for teachers. The website is located at http://www.History.com/.

About The History Channel®

The History Channel® is a leading cable television network featuring compelling original, non-fiction specials and series that bring history to life in a powerful and entertaining manner across multiple platforms. The network provides an inviting place where people experience history in new and exciting ways enabling them to connect their lives today to the great lives and events of the past that provide a blueprint for the future. The History Channel has earned four Peabody Awards, three Primetime Emmy® Awards, ten News and Documentary Emmy® Awards and received the prestigious Governor's Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the network's Save Our History® campaign dedicated to historic preservation and history education. The History Channel reaches more than 95 million Nielsen subscribers.

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