Throughout history, what we now call the month of December has almost always been a time for getting together with family, celebrating the holidays, and thinking about the past year. Around the world, there are a lot of different holidays in December.
In this blog post, we decided to look at peaceful winter family gatherings from three different cultures and religions around the world. No matter which December global holidays or holidays you celebrate, we at The International Center hope you have a warm and wonderful holiday season.
1. BODHI DAY
Bodhi Day is a Buddhist holiday that is held on the 8th day of the 12th lunar month of the Chinese calendar, which is December 8 in Japan. It remembers the day Siddhartha Gautama became enlightened. According to an old Buddhist story, Siddhartha sat down under a fig tree and meditated until he figured out what caused all suffering and how to free himself from it. His awakening took place in three steps.
First, Siddhartha realised that he had been reborn many times and learned about the cycle of rebirth and all of his past lives. Second, he found out about the Law of Karma, which says how important it is to follow the rules of the Eightfold Path. Third, he found the Four Noble Truths, which led him to Nirvana. Siddhartha became a Buddha after he reached Nirvana. Buddha means “Awakened One.”
2. LAS POSADAS
Las Posadas is a Catholic tradition that has been going on for 400 years. It starts on December 16 and goes on until December 24. Now, it is mostly celebrated in Mexico, Guatemala, and the Southwestern U.S. Historians think that Friar Pedro de Gante, a Belgian missionary, started the celebration in the 16th century. It may have started as a mix of traditional Spanish Catholic themes and the Aztec celebration of the birth of Huitzilopochtli, the god of war, the sun, and human sacrifice. The nine-day celebration period is like a pregnancy, which lasts nine months.
In Christian religious and biblical tradition, Mary was pregnant for nine months while carrying Jesus. In Las Posadas, Mary and her husband Joseph are trying to find a place to stay the night, just like it says in the Bible. Two persons dress up as Mary and Joseph, and some houses in the area are called guesthouses. Mary and Joseph are then led in a demonstration to every house, where people sing songs to them and tell them they cannot come in. This continues until they reach the last “inn,” where they are finally let in.
3. PANCHA GANAPATI
From December 21 to 25, many Hindus celebrate Pancha Ganapati, a five-day festival in honour of Lord Ganesha, the Protector of Arts and Culture. Sivaya Subramuniyaswami came up with Pancha Ganapati in 1985 as a Hindu alternative to Christmas and other December holidays. Since the late Subramuniyaswami’s Saivite Hindu church is in Hawaii, traditional Hindus in South Asia don’t usually celebrate Pancha Ganapati. On each of the five days of Pancha Ganapati, people focus on a different “sadhana,” or spiritual practise.
Each morning of Pancha Ganapati, children dress or decorate Ganesha in a different colour. They start with golden yellow on the first day, then move on to royal blue, ruby red, emerald green, and brilliant orange. These are the colours of the five Shaktis of Lord Ganesha (powers).
On the golden yellow day, families sit down together to mend broken relationships and apologise for hurting each other. On Royal Blue Day, you can say you’re sorry to family and friends who live far away. On Ruby Red Day, all debts and disagreements with coworkers, managers, and employees are settled. On Emerald Green Day, families talk about art, Hinduism, and how to make their homes look even better.
These are the following three most important December global holidays, and they show what people from these cultures and religions value and how they celebrate.