Merry Christmas!

The happiest time of the year has arrived. It seems that everyone has good intentions in their hearts and the best of us comes out during the month of December. Yes, we celebrate Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanzaa.

Since the pilgrims arrived in this country in search of freedom of religion, the public has been able to choose which organized religion or sect they want to join without persecution. No other country in the world has welcomed so many religious beliefs with the respect that the United States has done.

If someone asks us what American culture is, we cannot really answer since it depends on the particular upbringing of each one of us and the national heritage of its ancestors.

In the case of mixed nationalities in the same family, we have a formidable mix of cultural and religious beliefs that cannot be found anywhere else.

Our real identity is to be a nation of immigrants that embraces everyone. A vast majority of the population of the United States believes in Christianity and we have families that go to Midnight Mass before Santa Claus arrives with the children’s gifts.

Hanukkah is also called the Festival of Lights, Celebration of Dedication and Celebration of the Maccabees. Hanukkah is not the Jewish version of Christmas, but children almost always receive gifts, especially in areas where Jewish and Christian children are in close contact.

The main difference between Christianity and Judaism is that the Jews are still waiting for the arrival of the Messiah. For them, Jesus Christ is only a prophet and not the true son of God, so they do not celebrate Christmas as the coming of Christ, but his typical holiday in this period is the Hanukkah.

Kwanzaa is an annual one-week celebration in the United States and other African Diaspora nations in the Americas to honor the African heritage in African-American culture. It is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in the delivery of gifts and a feast. Kwanzaa has seven basic principles (See Nguzo Saba on page 5). It was created by Maulana Karenga and was first celebrated in 1966.

There are couples who have learned to raise their children within two religions, confident of who they are, proud of their heritage – from both sides. That is the true assimilation!

Yes, we are celebrating Christmas and there is nothing offensive in wishing someone “Merry Christmas.” This is Christmas, the best time of the year… or Hanukah or Kwanzaa.

Wonderful! We live in the best of countries. Let’s celebrate all together!