December is a month for many multicultural celebrations including Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. While most of us are familiar with these celebrations and their roots, did you know about other celebrations like Bodhi Day and Las Posadas?
Advent Sunday - Dec. 2
The Sunday nearest to Nov. 30 marks Advent Sunday, when Christians prepare to celebrate for the birth of Jesus. They light candles, lay wreaths and participate in special advent ceremonies until Dec. 24.
St. Nicholas Day - Dec. 6
In the origins of the Santa Claus legend, St. Nicholas is said to come this night to leave sweet treats and small gifts for children.
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception - Dec.8
The feast is celebrated by Roman Catholics, often with mass, parades, fireworks, processions and foods, to commemorate the Virgin Mary’s immaculate conception.
Bodhi Day - Dec. 8
This Buddhist holiday commemorates the day Buddha experienced enlightenment under a tree. The day may be marked with meditation, chanting, study of the Dharma, or with a traditional meal of tea, cake and readings.
Las Posadas - Dec. 16 to 25
A traditional Mexican festival that includes processions and parties re-enacting Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem, and their search for room at the inn. People read scriptures and sing Christmas carols called villancicos.
Hanukkah - Dec. 17 to 24
Also known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish festival celebrating the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrians. Each year, it begins on the 25th day of the Jewish month, Kislev. Each evening a candle is lit on the nine-branch candelabra called a menorah. Hanukkah is also a time for playing games, such as the dreidel (a spinning top), singing, visiting and for gift giving.
Christmas Eve - Dec. 24
The night before Christmas, and often the main day of celebration for many cultures, with family dinners and midnight mass. It is also the night Santa Claus delivers presents to children around the world.
Christmas - Dec. 25
Christmas is the day Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. While religious in foundation, the celebrations around Christmas have roots in secular traditions as well. It has become a popular holiday around the world and is celebrated even by non-Christians, with a focus on the story of Santa Claus, family feasting and gift-giving under a decorated tree.
Boxing Day - Dec. 26
Boxing Day is the day following Christmas Day, and traditionally a day when servants and tradespeople would receive gifts from their employers.
Kwanzaa - Dec. 26 to Jan. 1
This African American cultural holiday was started by African world scholar, Maulana Kareng. It is a relatively new holiday introduced in 1966 and named for the time of year when African tribes traditionally celebrated the first harvest of their crops. Each day is dedicated to one of seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, co-operative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
New Year’s Eve - Dec. 31
New Year’s Eve is the last night of the Gregorian calendar year, and is celebrated with parties and fireworks at midnight to usher in the New Year.