We all have different ways of celebrating the holidays – including our celebrations and traditions passed on from generation to generation. Many American Indian traditions have been around for generations, but sadly, not many of these traditions have been imbibed. It would amaze you to know, for instance, that our traditions have been woven into the fabric of various European customs, and this makes them even more special and relevant at this time!
For many of us, maintaining our historical and cultural integrity is very important – and it’s also a way for our younger generations to be proud of our heritage. But what are some well-loved Native American traditions you can incorporate into your Christmas celebrations? Let’s find out.
- The winter solstice celebration
Everyone is likely aware of the time of the Winter Solstice, and for many indigenous people around the globe, it’s the perfect time to honor our families and friends, offer our gratitude, and follow set beliefs. In the Americas, the Winter Solstice often occurs on the 21st or 22nd of December, and it’s the perfect time when many tribes host sunset bonfires, festivals, dances, and programs. For instance, the Spiro Mounds in Oklahoma are home to the Winter Solstice Walks, and it is also a time for lectures and educational presentations. On the other hand, the Hopi Soyaluna Ceremony is also held in several locations, and the Hopis believe that God travels away from the earth during the shortest day of the year. The ceremony involves dancing, music, and the giving of gifts, and the ceremony is meant to entice God to return.
Many tribes also host a night of dancing on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve, and on many occasions, the celebrations and festivities involve a recreation of the scene at the manger and the three Wise men. Certain American Indians also observe a similar ritual between the Wise Men and the Chiefs of the Great Nations. Some even bestow the baby with gifts that tell the Great Thunderbird about the miracle birth.
One way you can celebrate by combining the traditional with the novel would be to host a spectacular fairground party, where you can have your own fairground stall for hire and include games and rides. It’s a great way to celebrate with the young and old without losing sight of the uniqueness of the event.
Of course, one of the best ways we could celebrate is with the food that we choose to serve, which could both be a combination of classic Christmas fare and Native American dishes as well. There are plenty of viands and dishes to choose from, and Food.com has a vast selection of delicacies worth trying!
- Pow wows
Another way to celebrate the season would be to hold a pow-wow – and most tribes in the United States hold their pow-wows every year – most notable of which is the Tulalip Tribes, which has a unique pow-wow celebration each year.