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December, 2009

December brings us an array of holiday celebrations: Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Years Eve.

Blackeyed Peas
All these holidays are celebrated nationwide with family gatherings, and of course, plenty of food! Melissa's is your source for healthy recipe ideas and easy to prepare foods that will "wow" your guests. Try some of our traditional recipes and serve some holiday traditions like black eyed peas to bring in the 2010 with good luck.

Hanukah begins on December 11th at sundown and lasts 8 nights. It is celebrated with a candle lighting ceremony each evening at sundown, followed by a festive feast and gift exchange. Traditional foods are generally eaten which include: potato latkes (or pancakes), chicken soup, meatloaf or brisket, and plenty of desserts.

Christmas is the most celebrated holiday of the season and celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. There are lights and trees everywhere along with decorations and festive gatherings. Christmas Eve is often spent with families and friends exchanging gifts, leading into Christmas day where everyone enjoys gifts, family, friends and a delicious feast.

Kwanzaa begins on December 26, 2009 and ends January 1, 2010. Each day is dedicated to one of seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Each evening, family members gather to light one of the candles in the kinara, a seven-branched candelabra; There is one black candle, three red and three green candles. These are the mishumaa saba (the seven candles) and they represent the seven principles. Often gifts are exchanged. On December 31 community members gather for a feast, the karamu. Kwanzaa is now observed by more than 15 million people.There are many traditions for Kwanzaa from food to beliefs. These are the 7 principles which Kwanzaa is based:

1. Umoja (Unity) To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.

4. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

5. Nia (Purpose) To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

6. Kuumba (Creativity) To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

7. Imani (Faith) To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green; black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future and hope that comes from their struggle. Fresh colorful fruits and vegetables are eaten on Kwanzaa. Corn is a necessity for the holiday signifying children or family.

New Years Eve is celebrated world wide with food, fun and endless festivities! Melissa’s black-eyed peas are a MUST on New Year’s Day. Southern tradition states that eating black-eyed peas on the first day of the New Year will bring you good luck in the following year. Black eyed peas are a good source of fiber, low-fat and are delicious. Melissa's makes it easy with our tub black eyed peas, ready to prepare...no soaking required! Try our delicious recip