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Categorized | City Hall Corner, News

The joy of “Merry Christmas” (or Happy Festivus as the case may be)


By Mike Womack, Cedar Springs City Manager


Unlike Mudville, there is plenty of joy to be had in Cedar Springs throughout the winter season. The trees on Main St. are lit up, storefronts and homes are decorated, the music on the radio is exuberant and at least one local shop owner has been waiting for December 25th for about 364 days.  I’m happy to see all the activities going on in the City this time of year, cookie decorating, sleigh rides and visiting with Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the Library. While I normally shop local, I make sure to especially purchase holiday presents from the local stores that are present in the community all year round.  Also, when you shop in town, you don’t have to worry about porch pirates stealing deliveries off your porch.

This time of year, I consider myself very lucky to have significant diversity in my friends and family and I love that I get to help them celebrate all the different holidays and variations on holidays that exist in December. I always like to learn about how other people celebrate holidays and I will sometimes add those new celebrations into my own celebrations.

In Central Europe, Saint Nicholas’ naughty half-demon half-goat companion Krampus punishes misbehaving children while Saint Nicholas rewards good boys and girls with presents. In Japan, where locals don’t celebrate Christmas, many Japanese celebrate with a fried chicken dinner on Christmas day from Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants.   In Germany, shoes left outside are filled with candy and presents.  In Norway, families hide their brooms to prevent witches from stealing them for a ride on Christmas Eve.  Some American Christmas traditions include putting up more outdoor decorative lights than your neighbor, making gingerbread houses, ugly sweater parties, public readings of the “A Visit From St. Nicholas” poem, Christmas at the zoo, Christmas tamales, Mele Kalikimaka, Elfapalooza, Christmas Markets, pub crawls, fireworks and hiding a pickle in the Christmas tree (amongst many many more). Each family has their own traditions and while my family doesn’t hide a pickle in our tree, I like that everyone has fun in their own different and special way.  

I also love that so many different religions and different groups celebrate in their own individual ways in December. Kwanzaa celebrates seven days of principles including Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith. Kwanzaa is celebrated with libations, decorating the home with colorful art and wearing beautiful Kente clothing. Festivus is celebrated with a Festivus pole, airing of grievances, joining in feats of strength, and celebrating Festivus miracles. Hanukkah is observed with the lighting of candles on the menorah, singing, latke pancakes, sufganiyot doughnuts and chocolate gelt. Boxing day is celebrated by my commonwealth friends with shopping and sports and the winter’s solstice is celebrated with good acts, donations to needy causes and a recognition and remembrance of the importance of Mother Earth in human lives.

So, in light of the different beliefs and celebrations that my friends, family and community members celebrate, I wish you all a Happy Hanukkah, Feliz Navidad, Joyous Kwanzaa, Io, Saturnalia, Happy Festivus, Mele Kalikimaka, Happy Chalica, Happy Bodhi Day, Happy Humanlight, Blessed Yule, Soulful Blue Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  

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Ray Winnie
Kent County Credit Union

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