The Pine Belt is a melting pot of holiday traditions

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - From decking the halls to lighting the Menorah, the Pine Belt is overflowing with a mixture of holiday traditions and people of different faiths.

"I'm a Muslim," said Hattiesburg Petra Cafe Owner, Naser Smadi who  is from Jordan. He says back home they celebrate two major holidays called Eid, similar to Christmas, full of fellowship and giving.

"People save their money for Eid so they can give it to the poor. Maybe make some food for people," said Smadi.

Smadi says after living in the United States for 22 years he has gained a love for Christmas.

"I love Christmas to be honest with you. I even decorate my restaurant with the lights," he said.

University of Southern Mississippi student Tamanna Sahanta says her faith is also Islam. She says there is one holiday that goes beyond religion.

"The Bengali New Year," she said. "So, this is the Bengali 1419. We celebrate that during April 14 every year. Everybody can celebrate that, everybody can wear good clothes. In our country it is all about food.".

The Rabbi of Temple B'nai Israel in Hattiesburg Uri Barnea says those who practice Judaism celebrate the Festival of Lights in the month of December.

"We concentrate on the Festival of Lights that is also known as Hanukkah. It lasts for eight days. We start with one candle and each day we add another one," said Barnea.

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