The holidays are upon us! I love this time of year. I am one of those people who starts playing Christmas music and movies the week of Thanksgiving, and I could probably wear a different piece of Christmas-themed clothing every day in December. As someone who celebrates Christmas in “The Christmas Capital of Texas”, there are endless opportunities for me to fellowship, rejoice, and share in the fun, magic, and sparkle of the season.
There seem to be an assortment of annual debates that crop up this time of year about when Christmas decorations should be displayed, what goes on the Starbucks holiday cups, and the appropriateness of saying “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays”. For the record, I tend to stick with “Happy Holidays” to include all celebrations, but I’m not offended by celebration-specific greetings and salutations. I saw a shirt online that said, “Whatever you celebrate, have an awesome one!” This, to me, should be the vibe we send to each other this time of year. At the end of the day, winter holidays are about light, joy, and love. Let’s spread more of that around!
If you’re curious about different December celebrations, here are some very brief, high-level descriptions I found on National Geographic Kids and Wikipedia (I know, I know…), followed by an infographic from World Religion News. If you celebrate any of these holidays and want to add to or correct these descriptions, let me know!
First week of December: Chalica – A modern holiday celebrated by Unitarian Universalists to honor seven principles: the inherent worth and dignity of every person; justice, equity, and compassion in human relations; acceptance of one another and encouragement of spiritual growth; a free and responsible search for truth and meaning; the right of conscience and the use of democratic process; peace, liberty, and justice for the world community; and respect for the interdependent web of existence.
December 8th: Bodhi Day – In Buddhism, this is the Day of Enlightenment, celebrating the day Buddha received enlightenment.
December 21st: Winter Solstice – The longest night of the year, celebrated as a turning point in Pagan traditions.
December 21st – 25th: Pancha Ganapti – a modern Hindu festival celebrating Ganesha, the god of beginnings, remover of obstacles, and patron of arts, sciences, and letters.
December 22nd – 30th, 2019: Hannukah – In Judaism, Hannukah commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabees’ defeat of King Antiochus, who forbade Jews to practice their religion. The specific dates of the eight-day celebration change each year with the lunar calendar, but the holiday is always celebrated with food, prayer, and lighting candles on a menorah.
December 24th-25th: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – In the Christian tradition, Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, the son of God. There are many feast days and other Christian celebrations throughout December and early January that vary with geographic region, orthodoxy, and sect of Christianity. Some non-Christians also celebrate a secular Christmas defined by Santa, elves, and presents under the tree.
December 26th – January 1: Kwanzaa – A celebration of African heritage and African American culture that ends with a feast and gift exchange. Each day is dedicated to a different principle: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.