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Eight religious festivities that happen in December other than Christmas
By Musa Salah | Updated Dec 26, 2017 at 09:56 EAT
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A Bodhi festival
SUMMARY
  • There are so many festivities that occur in December that many don't know about
  • Apart from the popular Christmas day, people around the world mark several other days that mean something to their culture or religion
  • There are other religions such as Buddhism and Judaism that are popular in some parts of the world

Reflecting on the increase in religious diversity, there are many religious celebrations widely observed during the month of December. However, it is easy to forget that this month is also important for other faiths amid the Christmas pomp and colour. Other religions such as Buddhism and Judaism also celebrate important dates during this month.

Bodhi Day

This is a Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day Buddha attained enlightenment. According to Judaic tradition, Buddha had forsaken years of extreme ascetic practices and resolved to sit under a tree to meditate until he found the root of suffering and how to overcome it. It is observed on Dec 8th every year.

Hanukkah/Chanukah

This is an eight-day holiday that begins on the 25th day of Kisler in the Hebrew calendar and can occur in late November or December. It is celebrated to commemorate the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt. It is celebrated by lighting candles each night singing special songs, reciting the Hallel prayer and eating foods fried in oil including doughnuts and potato flakes.

St. Nicholas Day

This festivity takes place on Dec 6th and is celebrated to mark the tale of the man whom the tale of Santa Claus is based on. St. Nicholas was born in the 3rd century AD and is said to have used his large inheritance to feed the poor. He was known for his generosity and love for kids. It is believed that St. Nicholas used to put presents under the pillow of children provided that they were good during the year. Those who were bad would often find twigs under their pillows. St. Nicholas died on Dec 6 and with regard to his reputation as the bringer of gifts, his death anniversary became a celebration.

Kwanzaa

This is a week-long celebration and is observed from Dec 26th to January 1st. This celebration honors the African unity, culture, and heritage in the African American culture, and is celebrated by culminating in a feast and gift giving.

The Day of the Return of The Wandering Goddess

This is a Kemetic Orthodox observation that celebrates the reunion of the goddess Het-Hert with her father.

Rooted in the ancient Egyptian faith, the Day of the Return of the Wandering Goddess has been kept alive since 4500 BC by lighting lamps and offering sweets and dancing for Het-Hert.

Omisoka

This is a Japanese New Year's Eve celebrated on Dec 31st. It is the second most important day in the Japanese calendar and families perform Osouji ( the big clean up) so that the home will start the new year clean and tidy. Traditionally, families cook Osechi (Japanese traditional food in boxes) because cooking the first three days of the new year is considered unlucky.

Saturnalia

It is an ancient Roman festival in honour of the deity Saturn and was held on Dec 17th but later extended to Dec 23rd. The day was celebrated with a public sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn and a banquet followed by a private gift-giving ceremony. Many Romans and neopagans who follow the old ways still celebrate this festival.

Yalda

It is an Iranian festival celebrated on the "longest and darkest night of the year" that is to say, the Winter Solstice. These customs were originally intended to protect people from evil during the long night. People were advised to stay awake most of the night to avoid misfortune and then gather in groups with friends and family to share the remaining fruits from summer. It is marked on Dec 21st or 22nd.

December is a month of festivities enriched with culture and faith. Some of the festivals in Hollywood and Bollywood movies are not just fiction but true and existing practices.

 

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