Christmas is not the only winter holiday. Here are some recent and upcoming holidays in different cultures:
Baha’i Faith is said to be one of the youngest independent religions. It was founded in Iran in 1863 and incorporates principles of both Christianity and Islam. The central theme of Bahá’u’lláh’s message is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society. November 12 marks the birth of Baha’u’llah, the founder of Baha’i faith; November 28 marks the Ascension of his son, Abdul–Baha who carried his father’s will to continue promote the unity of mankind; November 26th is the Day of the Covenant for celebration of the Covenant of God as represented by ’Abdu’l–Baha being the Appointed Successor, authorized Interpretor and Center of the Covenant of Baha’u’llah.
Bodhi Day – December 8 is the Bodhi Day. On this same day, December 8, 566 BC, Siddhartha Gautama retained Enlightment at the age of 35 while meditating under the Bodhi Tree, and became the Sakyamuni Buddha – the Enlightened One. His realization became the foundation of Buddhist philosophy, the Four Noble Truths.
Christmas is a holiday celebrated by Christians and Non–Christians around the world on December 25th. Depending on who is celebrating it, this holiday has both a religious and secular aspect. The birth of Jesus is the main reason Christmas is celebrated. Many countries will experience a large boost in their economical system during Christmas. This is partly due to exchange of gifts between families, friends, and Santa which usually take place during this holiday in most western cultures. Christmas dinner is eaten with friends and family which typically involves a turkey served with some sort of sauce such as apple or cranberry.
Diwali – The Hindu festival of lights is called Diwali. It is also an important festival for Jain and Sikh faith. It begins in October or November with the new moon, so the precise day can depend on geographic location. This year it was on November 1. Diwali occurs before the Hindu new year and represents a time of renewal or light overcoming darkness. Celebrations normally include lights, fireworks, and sweets.
Hanukkah – The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, also known as the festival of lights, begins on the night before December 16 and ends on December 23, 2006. The festival originated historically to celebrate the recovery of a temple from an oppressive monarch around 165 B.C., and represents the defeat of forces that prevented the practising of Judaism. As part of observing the holiday, lamps or candles are lit for each of the eight days of the festival.
Kwanzaa is an African–American cultural festival beginning on December 26 and ending on January 1. The festival was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga. Dr. Karenga’s goal was to establish a holiday that would facilitate African–American goals of building a strong family, learning about African–American history, and developing unity. While developing the new holiday, Dr. Karenga studied many African festivals and found many of them to be harvest related. Because of this, he named the celebration Kwanzaa from the Kiswahili word meaning "first fruits."
Omisoka is the last day of the year, the 31st of December. This is the most important day in Japanese tradition. They clean their house, and put things in order then install the New Year’s day’s decorations. At the end of the day, after eating “toshikoshi–soba” (Cross year noodle) millions of Japanese visit the temple or shrine where a metal gong is struck 108 times. The number 108 represents all the sins to be driven away.
Posadas is a nine–day holiday beginning December 16 and ending December 24. It represents the difficulties that Saint Joseph and the Blessed Virgin faced in finding room when travelling to Bethlehem. In it, groups of children go from house to house singing a traditional song requesting lodging (posada). In each house, the owner responds with refusal (also in song), until they reach the designated site for the party, where the owner recognizes Mary and Joseph and allows them to come in. Latin american countries have a celebration party related to these days.
Ramadan – During the Muslim holy month, Muslims will not eat from sunrise to sunset to practice self control and strengthen their faith. Since the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, and months begin with the sighting of the new moon, Ramadan moves in relation to the commonly used calendar. Each year it begins about a week and a half earlier. This year it began on October 4 and ended on November 3. Ramadan ends with Eid ul–Fitr where Muslims will break their daylight fast and pray.
Yule was known as the winter solstice celebrated by Germanic pagans. Many of the symbols associated with Christmas are actually derived from traditional northern European Yule celebrations. A traditional ritual is a period of observing from dusk to dawn, the longest night of the year, to pray for the sun to come back. In modern Neopaganism nowadays, Yule is celebrated in the northern hemisphere on December 21 and in the southern hemisphere on June 21.
Zartusht–no–diso (Fasli) – December 26 is the Remembrance Day for the Prophet Zarathustra (Zoroaster), who found The Zoroastrian religion in ancient Persia. When Zoroaster turned twenty years old, he spent seven years on a mountain in a cave to meditate and devote himself to religious understanding. Zoroastrianism is important in the history of religion. Some scholars assert that some portions of Judaism, a key influence on Christianity, originated in Zoroastrianism.
You can go to http://www.thekoala.com/christmas.htm
and scroll to 'Christmas Traditions' and "More Traditions"
Christmas In Australia
Christmas In Australia
Christmas In Virtual Finland
Christmas In Poland
Christmas In Holland
Christmas Traditions In Hungary
Christmas In Ukraine
Irish Christmas Traditions
Memories of Christmas in Ireland
Christmas Traditions in Slovakia
Christmas In Spain
Christmas Traditions In Lithuania
Christmas In Wales
Christmas Traditions in Italy
Christmas In France & Canada
Christmas On Prince Edward Island
Christmas In Hawaii
More On Christmas In Hawaii
American Christmas Traditions
Christmas In Mexico
Christmas Traditions In Puerto Rico
Christmas In Jamaica
Christmas In Sweden
I just came across a fantastic website with 14 posters which look at how Christmas is celebrated in 12 different places around the world.
Places include: UK, Denmark, France, Sweden, Germany, Holland, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Russia, USA and Bethlehem.