While we are part of a society that focuses on Christmas, we often forget that not everyone we meet personally celebrates Christian traditions.Throughout the world, millions of people are participating in joyous and holy celebrations unrelated to Christmas.
This five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. It is a celebration of good triumphing over evil and is usually held in November.
A Jewish holiday, this is an eight-day festival of lights. It is a celebration of triumph over adversity and the miracle of a small jar of holy oil that burned for eight days instead of one, which allowed the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
A seven-day holiday of lights, created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 to celebrate family culture and heritage, and is modeled after the first harvest celebrations in Africa.
- Winter Solstice
The shortest day and longest night in the Northern Hemisphere. This year it falls on Friday, December 21st. There will only be 7 hours and 50 minutes of daylight hours. Throughout human history, from prehistoric time to the present, this time of year has been a time of celebration and ceremony.
Ancient civilizations around the world built temples and structures designed to capture the rays of the sun at the moment of the Solstice. One of the most famous of these is Stonehenge, located in Wiltshire, England. The Winter Solstice is particularly important for Druid, Wicca, and Pagan communities. Today, people around the world celebrate the Winter Solstice with bonfires, music, family gatherings, dancing and singing.
Shalako Kachina Ceremony is a series of dances and ceremonies conducted by the Zuni people at the winter solstice, typically following the harvest. For other tribes, this is commemorated as the season when the river freezes and the land sleeps, known as Luut’aa and also the season of K’aliyee, the time of the north wind blowing.
The Iroquois Midwinter Ceremony involves extinguishing old fires and lighting new ones. The Hopi Holy Cycle celebrates the changing of the seasons and the nature of the Hopi sacred universe.
- Chinese New Year
Also known as the Lunar New Year, this is the most important date of the Chinese calendar and is related to the Chinese Zodiac. Because the Chinese calendar is both a Solar and Lunar calendar, the actual New Year’s Day changes from year to year. Prior to the New Year, people clean their houses thoroughly and set up traditional decorations.
This is a time of year for family reunions, parties, gift giving, and fireworks.Many of us look forward to the holiday season each year, and revel in the traditions that accompany it. However, with the holiday season, comes a myriad of potential threats to your health. Check back next year (on January 1), when we will post about how to stay healthy in the New Year.
Whatever gatherings, ceremonies, celebrations, and traditions in which you participate, I want to wish you a healthy and joyous holiday season.