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Happiness Tuesdays

Faith, Something to Believe in

More than Christmas - Holidays in December

It’s now December - which means every shopping mall, radio station, workplace, and residential neighborhood is a-twitter with bright lights, catchy music, and shopping stampedes. Of course, we tend to associate all these activities with the 25th, Christmas Day. But it’s not the only holiday this month. In fact, it’s not even the only religious holiday this month.


Christmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, and each year millions of people gather together to hear and remember the story of the miraculous day. Of course, many celebrate this day without observing any kind of religion and follow the Santa Claus tradition, or create some type of hybrid. You’re likely also familiar with Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, which involves a practice of lighting a candle each day for 8 days, and placing it in a menorah to remember the miracles that their God has provided for them. But throughout the month, there are actually 11 major religious holidays.


The nation of Islam celebrates Ashura on Dec. 5, with Sunnis remembering the fasting of the prophet Muhammad and Shiites focussing on the death of his grandson. Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day, and look back on the origins of buddhism. Catholics celebrate several different feasts and of course participate in Christmas celebrations as well.


There are many more holidays and opportunities for people of faith to celebrate their beliefs. Make sure to connect with the people around you and ask what their holiday traditions are! Get to know something new. 

Recommended Movie

The Black Candle

Maya Angelou, Molefi Kete Asante

Interesting Fact #1

More than 2 billion people across 160 countries believe Christmas to be the most important holiday of the year.


Interesting Fact #2

Hanukkah is not the biggest Jewish holiday - Passover and Rosh Hashanah have a greater emphasis placed on them.


Interesting Fact #3

Kwanzaa is a non-religious holiday celebrating culture and tradition of African Americans.


Quote of the day

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love

- Hamilton Wright Mabie

Article of the day - December Religious Holidays: It’s The Most Wonderfully Holy Time Of The Year

A quick glimpse at a calendar is one way to see how religiously diverse the United States has become.

This year, December, a month that encompasses the Christian and Jewish celebrations of Christmas and Hanukkah, includes spiritually significant days for Muslims, Buddhists, Pagans and Zoroastrians.

Yes, Zoroastrians: Scholars estimate there are 6,000 followers of the centuries-old tradition in North America.

Here’s a quick look at some of the sacred days that illuminate the last month of 2011.

Dec. 5, Ashura, the 10th day of the first month on the Islamic calendar. 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 recall the death of Muhammad’s grandson in battle, an event that led to their differences with the Sunnis.

Dec. 6, the feast of St. Nicholas. Some Christians revere the fourth-century bishop of Myra, a Greek province in Asia Minor. His reputation for piety may have inspired the legend of Santa Claus. The tradition of leaving gifts for children on St. Nicholas Day began in the Low Countries and spread to North America with Dutch immigrants.

Dec. 8, Bodhi Day. Buddhists recall that Siddhartha Gautama vowed 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.”

Roman Catholics observe this day as the feast of the Immaculate Conception, believing that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was born without sin.

Dec. 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Observed by Catholics, especially those of Hispanic descent, the story of Guadalupe recounts a 16th-century apparition of Mary to Juan Diego, a poor Indian, on a hillside near what is now Mexico City.

Dec. 20, the Jewish festival of Hanukkah begins at sunset on this date and continues for seven more nights. It is a 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.

Dec. 21, Yalda, the Zoroastrian celebration of the winter solstice.

Dec. 22, Yule or winter solstice, the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere. Juul, a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia, featured fires lit to symbolize the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning sun. Wiccans and other pagan groups celebrate Yule.

Dec. 25, Christmas, observed by Christians since the Middle Ages as the birth of Jesus. Some Orthodox Christians follow a different calendar, and Christmas may fall on a different date.

Dec. 26, Zoroastrians observe the death of the prophet Zarathushtra, known in the West as Zoroaster. Tradition says he 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.

This is also the starting date for Kwanzaa, a weeklong, modern African-American and pan-African celebration of family, community and culture. For some people who keep Kwanzaa, the festival has spiritual overtones in its emphasis on imani, Swahili for “faith.”

Question of the day - What’s your favourite holiday tradition?

Faith, Something to Believe in

What’s your favourite holiday tradition?