The end of the year is a time of merriment cross culturally. Not just for the major denominations of the west, but also for a number of minority faiths.
The winter solstice marks the longest night due to the tilt of the earth’s axis causing a point in time when the sun is furthest away from us. This period of darkness marked a time of fear for what lies in the unseen. It’s for this reason I believe that the winter is now home to many holidays which encourage merriment and family time. Let’s do a quick review of the major ones I am familiar with just to prove a point.
There is Christmas which falls on the same date every year, December 25th, and symbolizes the birth of Jesus Christ—who is the son of God in the Christian faith and represents the messiah.
Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is an 8-day Jewish holiday which celebrates the reclaiming of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabean Revolt. The dates this holiday take place can vary from late November to late December as it is dependent on the Hebrew Calendar and not the Gregorian Calendar. (The Gregorian Calendar is named after Pope Gregory XIII and its widespread use didn’t begin until the 16th century).
Kwanzaa is a week long-holiday (Dec. 26th to Jan. 1st). that is mainly celebrated in nations immediately surrounding the Atlantic Ocean. It started in California and was created to honor the African Diaspora. It celebrates seven principles which, when translated from Swahili, mean: faith, unity, self-determination, collective work, responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, and creativity.
Las Posadas originated in Spain and lasts nine days. It is mainly celebrated in the south west regions of North America including the US, Mexico and Guatemala. Las Posadas celebrates the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem as they searched for refuge to birth baby Jesus and is celebrated from December 16th to December 24th.
Diwali is a five-day Hindu holiday that is often referred to the festival of lights. It celebrates Mahavira attaining nirvana, the peak of spirituality, and the death anniversary of Swami Dayanand.
Finally, Eid-al-Adha is and Islamic holiday celebrating the great sacrifice of Ishmael by his father Abraham and it takes place depending on the Islamic calendar which is dependent on the lunar cycle.
This is in no way an exhaustive list, but it does exemplify how winter has a tendency to bring people together! When booking flights this season make sure to keep this in mind.
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