Traditions greatly influence the celebration of the holiday season at the end of each year. At the Greenwood Lake Holiday Festival scheduled for this Saturday, Dec. 4, from noon until 6 p.m., residents will engage in old fashioned holiday fun, officially kicking off the event with bites to eat, musical DJ entertainment, cups of hot chocolate or an adult beverage, smores and a stroll through a vendor fair while warming up to a fire pit, all leading to a ceremonial tree lighting.
In The Netherlands
In The Netherlands, different traditions rule. According to the Travel Channel, St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 5th, where St. Nick, or Sinterklaas, catches a steamboat from Spain. In preparation, kids leave traditional clogs (or just their regular shoes) by the fireplace or door – the equivalent of hanging stockings over the fireplace in the United States. The shoes are filled with hay or carrots for Sinterklaas’ white horse, in the hopes that small gifts will replace this offering. But other regions celebrate for longer periods.
In Mexico, Las Posadas (meaning inns) are nightly processionals for the nine days proceeding Christmas Eve. The posadas recreate the tradition of Jesus and Mary seeking shelter and typically involve lots of singing and children dressed as angels. Eventually, each posada participant ends the night at someone’s pre-selected home, where, after initially being turned away, they’re welcomed with the likes of homemade tamales and Christmas punch.
Meanwhile, in Israel, Sufganiyot, jelly-filled doughnuts topped with powdered sugar, are commonly enjoyed by Sephardic Jews (of Spanish, Middle Eastern and African origin) during Hanukkah, the eight-day festival of lights that began on Nov. 28 and ends on Dec. 6. The eight-day Jewish celebration commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, when Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. When the Jews wanted to light their ceremonial Menorah, they found only a small amount of pure olive oil, sufficient to light only for one day. But, miraculously, it continued to burn for eight days, until new oil was made available, symbolizing to them that God had again taken His people under His protection.
In Greenwood Lake
The Greenwood Lake celebration lasts for only six hours, closing down Waterstone Road, but ends after a visit by Santa, with caroling hayrides through the downtown village area, and the tree lighting, accompanied by Christmas carols, at dusk.
All are welcomed to this family event.