ILW.COM - the immigration portal Immigrant's Weekly

Sponsor this page

Immigrant's Weekly December 18, 2000
Arthur L. Zabenko, Editor
Nina Manchanda, Assistant Editor
Marc Ellis, Chat Transcripts Editor
           H  I  G  H  L  I  G  H  T  S :
Free Subscription

Enter your e-mail address:
share this page with a friend Share this page
RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Christmas Candies

A Note from the Editors:


Ramadan: Nov. 27 - Dec. 25
Hanukkah: Dec. 21 - 29
Christmas: Dec. 25
Kwanzaa: Dec. 26 - Jan. 1

Immigrants to the US have brought a wide variety of religious and cultural practices. The traditions that are enjoyed during the holiday season today were invented by blending together customs from many different countries in what many consider to be an American holiday. Despite the variety of faith traditions in the US, there is a common theme to holiday celebrations promoting the idealized sense of communal good will. Whatever your religious practice throughout the year, the holiday season is a time to wake up our spiritual selves. Americans have a unique opportunity to celebrate festivals of the world side by side. Here is a brief look at the upcoming holidays:


Although there are almost as many meanings of Ramadan as there are Muslims, most Muslims believe that Ramadan is a time for inner reflection, devotion to God and self-control. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and is believed to be the month that the Holy Quran was sent down from heaven. During the entire month of Ramadan Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink during the daylight hours. On the 27th day of the month Muslims celebrate "Laylat-al-Qadr" (Night of Power). Many believe that this is the night Muhammad received the revelation of the Holy Quran and it is a time when God determines the course of the world for the following year. The end of the month is marked by the three-day celebration of "Eid-ul-Fitr" (Feast of Fast Breaking) during which families pray, feast together and exchange gifts.


Hanukkah or Chanukah is the Jewish Feast of Lights as well as the Feast of Dedication. The holiday lasts for eight days and begins on the twenty-fifth day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, which usually falls in December. Since Hanukkah is a religious holiday and a holiday for which Jews exchange gifts, this combination has resulted in the misperception that Hanukkah is "the Jewish Christmas."

An important part of the observance of Hanukkah is the lighting of the menorah. On the first night of Hanukkah, a blessing is recited and one light is lit. On each successive night another light is added until the eighth night when all the lights are kindled. The menorah is lit to commemorate the miracle that occurred after the Jews victory over the Syrian armies. When Jews came to rededicate the Temple, which had been defiled by the Syrians, they found only one small flask of lamp oil. This flask contained enough oil to last for just one day, yet the lamp miraculously burned for eight days.


In America, Christmas is both a holiday and a holy day. As a religious holiday, Christmas is a Christian festival celebrated on December 25, which commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. Most of the Christmas story is told in the Bible, in the gospels of Saint Luke and Saint Matthew. Seeking shelter from a storm, Mary and Joseph entered the town of Bethlehem. The innkeeper, having no rooms, let them stay in the stable with the animals where Christ (the annointed one) was then born. After the birth of Christ, a star appeared over the stable and led people to the baby Jesus. Twelve days after the birth, the Magi or Three Kings, arrived carrying gifts for the baby.

How Christmas came to be celebrated on the 25th of December remains unclear but is most likely tied to Roman New Year's traditions and Germanic pagan traditions of the winter solstice. As these civilizations spread so did the traditions of feasting, exchanging gifts, lighting Yule logs, decorating with greenery, fir trees, and lights which marked these holidays in ancient times as they do Christmas today. In many countries, including the US, gifts are exchanged in the name of Saint Nicholas, or "Santa Claus," the patron saint of family and children.


Kwanzaa is a non-religious African American holiday that celebrates family, community and culture. The holiday was founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26th to January 1st. The set of rituals and ceremonies during Kwanzaa reflect African social and cultural experiences. The festival is not meant to be a political or religious holiday, nor is it meant to be a substitute for Christmas. Each day of Kwanzaa focuses on one of seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. The Kwanzaa Feast (Karamu) is traditionally held on December 31st and is meant to be a celebration to give thanks for the past year's achievements.

Private Bill: Against All Odds - Guy Taylor Granted Green Card Article by Carl Shusterman
Carl Shusterman writes about a successful private bill in Congress to obtain permanent resident status for a client. Unlike public bills that affect the general public, a private bill is legislation that affects a particular individual, private corporation or specific part of the country. Before a Congressman can initiate a private bill on behalf of an immigrant, all administrative and judicial remedies must be exhausted. Private bills are usually introduced in cases with compelling humanitarian factors where the INS has not, will not or cannot grant relief. Until a scandal several years ago campaign contributions were the major means used to encourage Senators to introduce private bills. In these days of closer scrutiny and talk of campaign reform it may be easier to persuade a Senator to take up the cause by reminding him that getting a green card for a sympathetic case would be great publicity. It should not be overlooked as a last resort in otherwise hopeless cases.

INS Learns, 5 Years Too Late, It Mistakenly Deported US Citizen
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the INS erred in its decision to deport Alberto Caballero to Colombia. He became an American citizen as a teenager when his parents became naturalized citizens. According to Caballero, even though he told officials his parents were citizens, nobody in the government bothered to check computer databases before forcing him out of the country.

A Call for More Immigrants
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer officials in states such as Nebraska, Arkansas,Tennessee and Iowa are looking at ways to lure immigrants to their states and promoting methods to assimilate immigrants already present.

Christmas Candies

Immigrant's Weekly "Recipe of the Week" is an opportunity for you to share your favorite recipes with other visitors to the site. Do you have a favorite dish you prepare to remind you of your home country when you are feeling particularly stressed or homesick? Have you found a new favorite dish in your new land? What substitutes have you used for ingredients you could not find? Submit your recipes to Each week we'll bring you the most taste-tempting, mouth-watering recipes we receive.

ILW.COM Highlights
Free Forms on ILW.COM Forms Page

The ILW.COM forms page is more than a resource for employers and aliens who want to file petitions on thier own. Attorneys can use the forms page from home, a client site or any place they have access to a computer but not their forms software. Employers who hire attorneys can use the forms to save time and money by seeing exactly what information is needed and in what format. Aliens preparing to meet with an attorney can get some idea of the questions the attorney will ask. Of course, the forms can be filed with the INS.

This Week's Chat Schedule:
When Attorney
Mon., December 18
9:00 pm Eastern Time
Robert Hollander
Tues., December 19
9:00 pm Eastern Time
Special Event : Chat with INS Acting Director of the Business Liaison Office
Ms. Linda Dodd-Major
Thur., December 21
9:00 pm Eastern Time
Christine Flowers

Free Subscription

Enter your e-mail address:
                 Read past issues of the Weekly

An Important disclaimer! The information provided on this page is not legal advice. Transmission of this information is not intended to create, and receipt by you does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Readers must not act upon any information without first seeking advice from a qualified attorney. Copyright 2000 American Immigration LLC, ILW.COM. Correspondence to Letters may be edited and may be published and otherwise used in any medium.