The holiday time is a well-earned break for school children and parents alike. But many people don’t know its many major times for many different religions, other than the famous Christmas. It’s good to remember these holidays mean a lot of different things to lots of different people.
For Jewish people they have the Hanukkah or Chanukah which is the eight day “festival of lights” this holiday celebrates the redecoration of the Holy Temple, which happened in BCE and when a small group of Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on Earth and reclaimed it.
Islamic people, though they don’t celebrate festivals as the other major religions, many of their celebrations fall around November/December. The first is Eid-e-Shuja’ is a ritual festival observed by the Twelver Shi’a Muslim’s (the biggest branch of the Shia Islamic religion) and this marks the end of the two-month mourning period after the events of the Karbala massacre which occurred in 680 AD. The second main event that happens in November/December is Mawlid or Mawlid al Nabi al-Sharif and this is the observance of the birthday of Islamic prophet Muhammad. Technically there are two dates for this one for the Sunni scholars and the other Shi’a scholars. This is a time for celebration among their religion and is a time for celebration among most branches of the Islamic religion.
Some Native Americans and Aboriginals celebrate Winter Solstice with a huge festival around Christmastime.
Native-Americans often celebrate Kwanzaa or Quansa which is a celebration of inter-faith celebrating their heritage.
Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day; this celebration recalls the date when Buddha attained enlightenment.
Saturnalia is celebrated by Nova Romans who are followers of the old gods of Rome and they still acknowledge ancient Roman Holy Days.
Omisoka is a very popular end of year celebration in Japan. Shabe-Yalda is an Irian interfaith celebration in honour of the sun’s rebirth.
Atheists celebrate Christmas as well as Christians and Catholics, however, they don’t believe that it is the birth of the Christian Saviour but they believe it’s a time or family and forgiving.
For Christians and Catholics, the holidays are a time to celebrate the birth of Christ and to be with their family.
Christmas originally came from the ancient Roman holiday of Saturnalia a holiday in honour of Saturn, the god of agriculture. This was celebrated on the Winter Solstice. In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday, the birth of Jesus was not celebrated, but that changes in the fourth century when officials decided to make Jesus’ birthday a holiday. Though Jesus’ birth was not known it was more likely to be pointing towards somewhere in spring. Pope Julius I chose December 25th as the date in which it would be celebrated.
Christmas was first called the Feast of the Nativity and the custom continued to spread throughout Europe and some parts of Egypt. In the 17th century, a wave of religious reform took over Europe. Oliver Cromwell took over England and changed and cancelled Christmas. When Charles II rose to the throne, by popular demand returned the holiday.
During this period this meant that Christmas in America was not a holiday, Christmas was outlawed in Boston and anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fines. After the American Revolution English customs fell out of favour and this meant that Christmas wasn’t a federal holiday until June 26 1870.
The Americans decided to reinvent Christmas because if they were going to follow English customs, they’d make it more American. They changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family centered day of peace and reckoning.
This was adapted all across the world, now Christmas is celebrated by many religions and people. Most religions see Christmas as a time for family and to give thanks for what has been and will be achieved in the coming years. When looking at Christianity, Christmas is a time where family and friends come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Saviour.
Whatever reason you may use these Christmas holidays for, Happy Holidays and a Happy Break!