While Christmas tends to dominate the December holiday cycle, many cultures and religions are celebrating as well. Take time to learn how others may celebrate this month.
December 8 - Bodhi Day (Buddhism)
Buddhists celebrate the day that Siddhartha Gautama, considered the founder of Buddhism, achieved enlightenment through meditation. The word Bodhi means awakening or enlightenment. No parades or fanfare take place. Some eat tea and cookies. Others decorate a Bodhi tree. For most, it’s a day of meditation and peace.
December 11-18 - Hanukkah (Judasim)
Hanukkah is a Jewish festival commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. It is also known as the Festival of Lights. Many modern Jewish families celebrate by lighting the menorah. One candle per night of Hanukkah is lit. People might also play dreidel games and eat certain foods like sufganiyot (similar to jelly donuts) and latkes (fried potato pancakes). Both foods are fried in oil, commemorative of the miracle of the Maccabees' long-burning oil.
December 16-25 - Posadas Navidenas (Hispanic Christian)
Las Posadas Navideñas means The Christmas Inns in Spanish and is a nine-day religious observance meant to honor Mary and Joseph's quest for shelter. Every night, neighbors gather to recreate the Holy Family's experience searching for an inn on their way to Bethlehem. The party, or Posada, often features Christmas carols and a piñata.
December 21 - Winter Solstice (Wicca/Pagan)
The shortest day of the year marks the end of fall and the official start of winter. The winter solstice is an ancient pagan holiday known for rituals and traditions that celebrate nature and setting one’s intentions for the coming season. People may celebrate by giving back to nature or exchanging nature-themed gifts.
December 25 - Christmas (Christian)
Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, and began as a religious and cultural celebration. While contemporary Christmas is more commercial, celebrations may include attending worship services, singing, and gathering together to eat and exchange gifts.