Archives for November 2017

Celebrations Around the World

Around the world, December is a sacred month full of celebrations and commemorations for Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Pagans and Zoroastrians.

6th December is the Feast of St. Nicholas. St Nicholas, the fourth century Bishop of Myra had a reputation for piety and the leaving of gifts for disadvantaged children in the dark time of the year. He inspired the legend of Santa Claus, a tradition which began in the Low Countries and spread to the rest of Europe and to North America with Dutch immigrants.

 8th December is Bodhi Day when Buddhists remember Siddhartha Gautama’s vow to sit under a tree in what is now Bodhgaya, India, and not to rise until he was enlightened. The title Buddha means “awakened one.”

8th December is also the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Catholic celebration of Mary, the mother of Jesus, being born without sin.

Ashura is celebrated on the 10th day of the first month on the Islamic calendar. On this day, Sunnis, the largest group of Muslims, remember that the Prophet Muhammad fasted in solidarity with Jews who were observing Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Shiites also recall the death of Muhammad’s grandson in battle, an event that led to their differences with the Sunnis.

12th December is the Hispanic Catholic Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe which celebrates the 16th century sighting of Mary by Juan Diego, a poor Indian, on a hillside near to what is now Mexico City.

The Jewish festival of Hanukkah begins at sunset on 20th December and continues for seven more nights. It is the remembrance of an effort to restore the Temple in Jerusalem after a period of desecration. Faithful Jews found only enough oil to light the temple lamp for one day, but the flame burned for eight.

On 21st December, Zoroastrians mark Yalda, a celebration of the Winter Solstice.

December 22nd, the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere, sees the celebration of Juul, a pre-Christian Scandinavian festival during which fires are lit to symbolise the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning sun. This is also celebrated as Yule and the Winter Solstice by Wiccans, Druids and other pagan and spiritual groups.

25th December is Christmas Day, the celebration of the birth of Jesus by Christians since the Middle Ages although some Orthodox Christians follow a different calendar so that Christmas may fall on a different date for them.

On 26th December, Zoroastrians observe the death of the prophet Zarathushtra, known in the West as Zoroaster, who lived in what is now Iran in about 1200 B.C. His teachings include the idea of one eternal God; seven powerful creations: sky, water, earth, plants, animals, humans and fire; and that life is a struggle between good and evil.

26th December is also the starting date for Kwanzaa, a weeklong, modern African-American and pan-African celebration of family, community and culture.

So, wherever in the world you are and whichever traditions, culture and religions you follow, enjoy this sacred month and have a wonderful December that is full of love, peace and compassion for all.

Love Laurelle