The Holiday Season - It’s not just Christmas!
By Siera Millard
Photo by Deep Sea News
As a member of a particular religion, or of no religion, we are prone to the possibility of overlooking other religious holidays in December. In a world filled with diverse groups of people, we must first be aware of one another and the intermingling traditions that make the world a great big melting pot.
Buddhism - Bodhi Day celebrates the Buddha’s “passing into final nirvana.” Siddhartha Gautama, who would later become the Buddha, left his rich life to seek “peace of mind.” He sat under a fig tree, now called a Bodhi tree, and became enlightened during his meditation; thereafter Gautama was known as the Buddha, an important figure in Buddhism. The word Bodhi translates to “enlightened” or “awakened” in English. The date varies in different regions, but it is celebrated on December 8th in Japan after the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in the 1800s. The holiday is celebrated with extended meditation type practices.
Catholicism - Christmas is perhaps one of the most well known holidays in the world. Today, December 25th has become a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and for people everywhere to come together and celebrate as a family. Traditions include decorating houses and trees with Christmas lights, telling the tale of Santa Claus, exchanging gifts on Christmas Day, caroling, and going to mass at Christian churches.
Hinduism - December 18th marks the creation date of the Bhagavad Gita, the most important writings in the Hindu religion. It celebrates the figure Lord Krishna who taught his philosophies to prince Arjuna, explaining the importance of Karma and Dharma. Karma means that every action precipitates an equal reaction that can be either positive or negative. Dharma, according to the Hindu scriptures, is living a righteous life such as the Gita. The holiday is celebrated by the reading and study of the Bhagavad Gita.
Judaism - Centuries ago, in the 2nd century BCE, the Holy Land of Jerusalem was claimed by the Syrian-Greeks who demanded that the people to adopt their religious and cultural norms. In retaliation, Judah the Maccabee led an army that defeated and drove the Greeks out of Jerusalem. The Jews reclaimed the Holy Land and the Holy Temple. In lighting the temple’s menorah, the seven branched candle, only a single container of oil was left that lasted for eight days. Afterward, the holiday of Chanukah (pronounced kha-nu-kah) was created. In honor of this occasion, a menorah is lit inside of houses and synagogues, and special prayers are recited.