During the month of December most people automatically think of Christmas. Everyone decorates their trees and homes, take pictures with Santa, attends lots of holiday events and has those gifts under the tree. However, there are other holidays other than Christmas that are celebrated during the month of December. As a central Indiana native, I’ve seen our city become such an amazing melting pot over the last few years and what better way to show our kids this diversity than with some non-Christmas events around Indy?

Chanukah

Chanukah is a Jewish holiday that lasts eight days and is a wintertime “festival of lights”. It’s celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting. First, special blessings are recited, often a traditional melody, then traditional songs are sung afterwards. Following, the lighting of the menorah each day. The menorah is lit in each home or place and placed in a doorway or window. Since the Chanukah miracle involved oil, it’s customary for those who practice to have delicious fried foods for the holiday. A fun game played by children on Chanukah is Dreidel (a four-sided spinning top with the Hebrew letters on each side). The game is played for coins, nuts or other small gifts. Chanukah this year will take place on December 22nd-30th. Some activities around Indy include;

Community Menorah Lighting
6701 Hoover Rd
Indianapolis, IN 46260

The event will be held on December 22nd from 5-6pm

Chanukah Celebration and Dinner
Chabad Lubavitch of Indiana
2640 W 96th St.
Carmel, IN 46268

The Event will be held on December 22nd form 7-9pm

Winter Solstice

With all this cold and snow moving into central Indiana it’s safe to say that we have truly entered the winter season. Winter solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year and that happens during this month. This year the winter solstice will be on December 22nd and that’s the “official” start of our winter season. Lots of people around the world and right here in Indy celebrate and welcome the arrival of winter solstice. The celebration happens on solstice eve and solstice day and those who celebrate the solstice enjoy singing special songs, telling stories, doing different crafts, activities and having a nice feast afterwards. A great way to get kids involved is to talk about the changes our earth goes through and about the various aspects of nature. Decorate your home with all things winter to welcome the winter season. A great idea for littles is to have a fun sensory bin with snow and all things winter, and to include a yummy treat as well. No matter what your family celebrates, everyone experiences the seasons changing and winter solstice is a great way to welcome in a new season.

Indy Winter Solstice Celebration
Unitarian Universalist Church of Indianapolis
615 W. 43rd St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208

The celebration will be on December 19th and 20th at 7pm with seating beginning at 6:30pm. The Celebration consists of singing, storytelling and pitch in feast. The celebration is free to attend and open to the public for all ages.

Kwanzaa

Did you know that Indy has a community that celebrates Kwanzaa? What is Kwanzaa you ask? It’s a unique and fun family filled African American celebration. Kwanzaa is a celebration that focuses on African American heritage, ancestry, family togetherness, the community you are part of, and nature. The celebration is held from December 26th through January 1st. There are various important decorations that make Kwanzaa a great holiday to celebrate with family. The Kinara; is a seven-day candle holder, it represents the seven important aspects of Kwanzaa. The seven candles for each day include; one black, three red and three green candles. The Mkeka which is a straw mat that goes under the Kinara. An ear of corn for each child in the family, a fruit basket and unity cup. Because Kwanzaa is a family-oriented celebration it’s easy to get little ones involved in all aspects of the seven-day celebration. Kids can help their family member light the Kinara for each day. Family members can have the child choose their ear of corn to have placed on the Mkeka and to help put together a fruit basket. During the celebration there is lots of music, dancing, delicious foods, gift exchange on the last day and history storytelling.

Kwanzaa Celebration
Central library downtown Indianapolis
40 East Saint Clair St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204

The celebration will be on December 26th from 5:30pm-9pm. The celebration will showcase songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, and poetry reading. The event is free, but there may be a parking fee at the central library garage.