Tuesday , December 05, 2017 - 4:00 AM3 comments
One of the things I most love about December is that there are so many amazing days to celebrate, bringing honor, joy, reverence, education and remembrance to our community.
Take Dec. 1. It does double duty, providing both a time of reverence and educational opportunity. Maulid al-Nabi, also known as Mawlid, honors the birth of the Prophet Mohammad for many followers of Islam. (Side note: some members of the faithful do not participate in this observance, including the Wahhabi, Deobandi and Ahmadiyya communities.) Take this moment to get to know your Muslim neighbors and recognize this important time with them.
Educational opportunities also abound as we recognize World AIDS Day. The World Health Organization recognizes more than 36.7 million people living with AIDS. This means that you or someone you know and love is being directly impacted by this disease. Testing, informational workshops and support are offered to stop the spread of this disease, improve the quality of life of those living with AIDS and find a cure.
Advent, like many other days on the calendar, moves around a bit, falling on the fourth or sixth Sunday from Christmas (depending on the denomination). A Latin term, “advent” means coming, as in the coming of Christ. This is a time of waiting and preparation for many Christians.
“A date that will live in infamy,” according to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, is Dec. 7 — Pearl Harbor Day. On this day in 1941, Japan completed a sneak attack on Hawaii, resulting in the United States’ entrance into World War II. On this date, we can remember and honor those who gave their lives for our freedom.
Since 1948, Human Rights Day has been observed Dec. 10. The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights outlines and celebrates the inalienable rights of all human beings, regardless of race, gender, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property or birth. It reminds us that not one of us is better than any other of us.
Dates vary for the next two events on this year’s calendar.
Hanukkah is the festival of lights, commemorating the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greek army. It also celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, which included restoring its menorah. The miracle of Hanukkah is that a single vial of oil, which should have lit the lamp for one day, lasted for eight full days. Thus, Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration. Celebrants light candle for each day of Hanukkah, they offer special prayers, play games with the dreidel and enjoy food and music unique to the celebration.
The winter solstice, Dec. 21, provides us with a moment to recognize the shortest day and longest night of the calendar year in the northern hemisphere. For those in the southern hemisphere, that date falls in June. Celebrations the solstice vary, but often include festivals, gatherings, rituals and celebrations.
Dec. 25 is Christmas, when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Many Christian denominations see this date at the start of the 12-day Christmas season. There are often Christmas Eve services and midnight Masses. While this holiday is religious in origin, many people celebrate it as a secular event that centers on Santa Claus and gift-giving. It is said that Santa delivers toys and gifts to good children while leaving coal for those who are on his naughty list.
Kwanzaa starts Dec. 26 and is a seven-day celebration of family, community and culture, started in 1965 by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Karenga sought to provide African-Americans with connection to their ancestral heritage; thus, it is a cultural celebration that can be honored regardless of religious affiliation. Each day a different principle is emphasized including unity, self-determination, collective works and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. The week ends with a feast and gift-giving on Jan. 1.
December offers many opportunities to honor and celebrate your friends, neighbors and even strangers. As we wrap up a contentious year, perhaps we can use the interesting celebrations from all faiths and cultures to remember the events that bring us joy and move forward together.
Adrienne Andrews is Weber State University’s chief diversity officer.
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