A World Religion Holiday Season Calendar
Hindus celebrate many festivals throughout the year. Dates for the Diwali Festival of Lights, change each year based on the Hindu Lunar calendar, but it sometimes falls in November. Diwali is marked by five days of celebration with ubiquitous illumination throughout. Diwali celebrates the triumph of good over evil.
Sikhs observe the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the person who founded Sikhism along with nine others. The Sikh Holy Book is read continuously for over 48 hours. Processions are also held in India and England, which include singers, musicians, martial arts demonstrations and fireworks.
Shintoists observe Labor Thanksgiving Day, a modern version of the Niiname-Sai festival. The holiday began as a way to give thanks for the autumn rice harvest and is now a day to think about the environment, human rights, and peace.
Baha’i’s commemorate the nomination of v to the Center of Baha’u’llah’s Covenant every year on November 26. The day not only celebrates the life of Abdu’l-Baha, the son of founder Baha’u’llah, but also the meaning of his covenant. The covenant is all about Baha’uTlah’s promise to institute the Kingdom of God on Earth in exchange for their duty and dedication.
December 8 is Bodhi Day for Buddhists! It marks the day when Buddha, or called Siddhartha Gautama achieved enlightenment. They consume cake and tea while quietly studying readings, and some decorate trees with ornaments to celebrate unity.
Wiccans recognize the Winter Solstice, also known as Yule. Solstice night, one of the longest nights the year, turns into the sun’s rebirth the next day, which is celebrated by Wiccans. They light bonfires and wassail trees, while using spiced cider to conduct toasts.
Speaking of trees…
Long before Christianity came to be, ancient people would use evergreen boughs as a reminder of all the lush greenery that would grow when the sun god returns in the summer. Romans also celebrated the solstice with these boughs, as a symbol of everlasting life. Germany is known to have initiated the Christmas tree tradition as we know it in the modern day.
Jews celebrate Hanukkah and light up a branched candelabra called the menorah, shining brightly to celebrate the triumph of Jewish people against religious persecution. This well-known celebration is called Hanukkah, an eight-day celebration to remember the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem on second century B.C., where legend has it that Jews rose up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean revolt. In the U.S. Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of the month of Kislev in the Jewish lunar calendar and lasts for 8 days.
Did you know?
Saint Nick, a.k.a. Santa Claus, was a 4th century Bishop in Turkey, who used his family fortune to help the needy? Legend says he tossed gold through a window to prevent a peasant girl from being sold into slavery.
Atheists, agnostics, and religiously unaffiliated
Christmas is a time to gather with loved ones and show how much they care through acts of generosity, and a great excuse to enjoy good food, great company and thoughtful gifts!
The 12 Days of Christmas, as mentioned in the popular Christmas song, actually begin at the end of Advent, on December 25.
To those who believe that Christ is the Messiah, Christmas is a holy celebration of Jesus’ birth into the human world, as a fulfillment of the prophecy of the divine savior coming to save humankind from their sins.
Do you know?
Alabama was the first state in the U.S. to recognize December 25th as a holiday.
Catholics designate the four weeks before Christmas as Advent, “a time to prepare the way of the Lord for His coming as our King and Savior.” Devout Catholics go to four Masses for Christmas, which are composed of the vigil, midnight mass, mass at dawn and mass during the day.
A lot of Buddhists also celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday with festive food, family and their loved ones.
The Mormon church has what is called the “Christmas Devotional” in early December, that takes place in Utah, the LDS church headquarters. The celebration is music-filled, leaders speak about Jesus Christ, and is broadcast via satellite and the internet all over the world. Mormons have a special Christmas service the Sunday before Christmas, where the Christmas story is read from the Gospels of the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
Protestant denominations Baptists
In the current day, Baptists celebrate Christmas in the same way as other Christian churches do, although Baptists have not always done so. Prior to the late 19th century, very few members celebrated it, and it was not until the 20th century that it was largely embraced as a common practice.
Anglicans are devoted to maintaining the real Christmas spirit, which to them, is a spirit of true worship and reverence to Jesus Christ, and an expression of rejoicing in his coming. They call their followers to pray and celebrate on each of the 12 days of Christmas, and also celebrate feasts at this time, including the Feast of St. Stephen the day after Christmas.
For Lutherans, the church year beings at Advent, because they believe that these is when Jesus’ life on earth began. The advent candles and advent wreath are important symbols for a time dedicated to the celebration of the coming of Christ.
Evangelicals celebrate Christmas just like other Christian churches, with worship services, putting up a tree, gift-giving and festivities.
Methodists believe that the Christmas season begins with Jesus’ birth and lasts for two full weeks and is a time to encounter “the extraordinary love, threats, dangers and opportunities God’s Incarnation set off then and still sets off today.” Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas and goes on until Christmas Eve.
Presbyterians have not always celebrated Christmas, because of their desire to distinguish themselves from Roman Catholic practices. In the mid-1800s, Presbyterian Pastor James W. Alexander expressed a gradual acceptance of Christmas practices. In the 20th century the debate over Christmas celebration continued, but it is now part of the Presbyterian Church liturgical year.
Muslims do not celebrate Christmas. Although they believe in Jesus as a Prophet, they do not believe that he is the son of God. Muslims have two major religious festivals, Eid Al-Adha and Eid Al-Fitr.
Many Jains celebrate Hindu holidays and deeply profess in ahimsa, meaning “peace towards all living beings in thought, word and action – the Christmas spirit is a very Jain-like philosophy” Though they do not believe that Jesus is the messiah and that he was born on Christmas day, the customs and symbols of the season are a big part of their daily lives.
Scientologists come from a wide variety of faiths and cultural traditions. They gather with loved ones to enjoy the warmth of friends and family and celebrate the joy of the season. The Church of Scientology holds several holiday activities for its members, in addition to regular religious services.
Although Taos do not believe in a transcendent God, they celebrate the integrity and beauty of the infant in the manger with a cautious, respectful and inward-looking spirit. This is based on the Taoist view that babies are closer to Tao than most adults, having the emptiness in mind that Taoism strives towards.
Did you know?
“Pere Noel” is the French name for Santa Claus.
Canada, The U.K., and most other Commonwealth countries officially celebrate the day after Christmas as Boxing Day. The tradition may have originated from the Christian holiday Saint Stephen’s Day, which is also December 26.
Sikhs observe the birthday of the tenth Guru, Gobind Singh with the festival Parkash Utsav Dasveh Patshah, which translates to “10th Divine Light.” It begins two days before his birthday and includes reading the religious text Guru Granth Sahib from start to finish without interruption.
Eastern and oriental
ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas on January 7, based on the Julian calendar. The Christmas holiday is celebrated in three days with fasting and worship services. Eastern Orthodox Christians have a special meal called | “Holy Night supper” after fasting for the day.
Pongal is a big festival in mid-January that marks tl harvest of crops and thanksgiving. Lohri is a bonfire festival also in mid-January, while the colorful kite festival is celebrated around the same time. Thaipusam is observed during the Tamil month of Thai (January-February), dedicated to the Hindi god Murugan.