In recent years there has been a growing awareness that while, for most, the primary holiday of the winter season is Christmas, winter time actually brings with it a slew of holidays.
Advent is a Christian holy season that, in the west, will begin this year on Sunday, November 27th and last until Saturday, December 24th. The emphasis of Advent is on preparation for Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, as well as looking forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Christmas (Christ’s Mass) is a Christian holy day that commemorates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth in Bethlehem in the first century. It is a twelve-day long holiday, though most, if not all, of the celebration takes place on the first day for many observers. Traditions associated with Christmas include the decorating of evergreen trees, exchanging gifts, and special church services.
Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish celebration of the reconsecration of the temple in Jerusalem around 165 or 164 BCE. The events leading up to this are chronicled in 1st and 2nd Maccabees, which deal with the Maccabean revolt in the 160s BCE. Each night of the holiday, one of eight candles is lit commemorating the miraculous story of the candle in the temple.
Kwanzaa is a week-long secular holiday that that honors African heritage in the African diaspora. It begins on December 26. The seven days correspond to seven core principals of the holiday: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
New Year’s Day
Another secular holiday in many parts of the world is the New Year on January first. While January first is the beginning of the new year for many today, this has not always been the case and still isn’t for some cultures. Watch this video to learn more: