For many of us, the holidays mean joining — or avoiding — traditions passed down from our families, including cultural and religious celebrations. While many of these festivals have ancient origins, some have come about in our own lifetime. Below are a few that are happening from December 2021 thru January 2022 to check out. Or not. No pressure.
If you are of the Jewish faith and looking for a little road trip, head to the Simpson Plaza right outside Frisco City Hall (6101 Frisco Square Blvd, 972-292-8000) at 4pm Sun for the eighth annual Chabad of Frisco Chanukah Celebration. Along with the giant menorah lighting, there will be Chanukah donuts, hot latkes, dreidels, and crafts for the kids, plus a trackless train ride and a bounce house. There will be a live concert featuring the Kosher Klezmer Band. This event is free to attend, but donations are welcome at ChabadFrisco.org.
In Christian circles, Christmastime is when the birth of the savior Jesus Christ is commemorated. As my version of the story goes, all the country folk of pre-Israel Judea were traveling to the big city to be counted for the census. A very pregnant Mary — Jesus’ mother-to-be — needed to rest, but there was no room in “the” inn or any inn for that matter. Luckily, a pre-Airbnb barn situation was arranged for the travelers (3 stars, would stay again). Called the nativity, modern churches reenact this scenario seasonally. From 6 to 9pm Dec 10-12, you can see this Christmas story come to life with actors and live animals at Graceview Baptist Church (1440 S Burleson Blvd, Burleson, 817-295-2165). This free event also includes a hayride, homemade treats, hot coffee, and hot chocolate.
At 10am Fri, Dec 10, and 8pm Sat, Dec 11, at Bruton Theater (650 S Griffin St, Dallas, 214-743-2440), attend the Black Academy of Arts & Letters’ 29th annual Christmas Kwanzaa Concert featuring classical music, gospel songs, spirituals, and hymns performed by the students of Conrad, Dunbar, Kimball, Life Charter, and Lincoln high schools with guest performances from Charles Rice Elementary School, accompanied by the bands from Kimball and Townview High School. Tickets are $5-10 at Ticketmaster.com.
The yin to the European Santa-like person St. Nicholas is Krampus, a half-goat/half-demon entity who punishes misbehaving children during Yule (a.k.a. Christmas). What better place to meet him than at a haunted-house park? On Sat, Dec 11, from 8pm to 10pm, head to Moxley Manor (510 Harwood Rd, Bedford, 682-231-1313) and witness the mayhem. “Bring a friend, but you may leave alone.” Tickets are $30-45 at MoxleyManor.com/Christmas-Haunted-House or at doors.
Another tradition that dates back to the ancients is celebrating the shortest day and longest night of the year, Winter Solstice, marking the symbolic death and rebirth of the sun. Founded in 1975, the Texas Local Council of the Goddess — one of North Texas’ oldest nature-oriented religious groups (i.e., pagans, Wiccans, and witches) — hosts its Winter Solstice Celebration 2-6pm Sun, Dec 19, at the Arlington Unitarian Universalist Church (2001 California Ln, 817-460-6481). Moon School for kids starts at 2:30pm, and then Yule Rites for adults are at 3pm. There is no cost to attend, but a $5 love donation is suggested. Vendors will be on hand, so it is a shopping experience as well.