December Is for Celebrating
December brings us a month filled with multi-cultural celebrations: Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve. 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 ring in 2022 with good luck.
This year, Hanukah begins at sundown on November 28. Hanukah lasts 8 nights. Hanukah is celebrated with the Festival of Lights. Each evening, the family gathers for a candle lighting ceremony where one candle of the menorah, an eight-branched candlestick, is lit each night until all eight candles are burning. The festive evenings are filled with games of dreidel, an ancient ancestor to today’s spinning top, and Hanukah gifts are exchanged. The feasts of Hanukah are abundant with Jewish specialties such as brisket, matzo ball soup and potato latkes.
The first day of winter is December 21. Winter really validates that the holidays are here! There are still plenty of fresh produce items to enhance your winter meals, including our steamed line for casseroles, stews and soups.
Christmas is Saturday, December 25 this year. The night before Christmas is also a very popular family gathering when many families go to church together.
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.
Some popular ingredients for preparing a Christmas feast are fresh and dried cranberries, sweet potatoes, pearl onions, fresh herbs, mushrooms and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Kwanzaa begins on December 26th and ends on January 1, 2022. There are many traditions for Kwanzaa, from food to beliefs. There are 7 principles upon 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, make our brother's and sister's problems our problems, and 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. There is a candle holder called a Kinara that holds 7 candles. 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 above.
Fresh colorful fruits and vegetables are eaten on Kwanzaa. Corn is a necessity for the holiday signifying children or family.
New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve is celebrated worldwide 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, are low-fat and so delicious. Melissa's makes it easy with our ready-to-eat, steamed black-eyed peas! Try our delicious recipes and have a great year!