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December 23, 2008
December brings an assortment of holiday traditions

Hindus celebrate Pancha Ganapati in India.

A number of religious and cultural events take place in December.

Some, like Christmas, are celebrated in countries around the world, while others, like the Japanese Ōmisoka, are unique to a particular region.

Many holidays are steeped in tradition, like the annual processions of St. Lucy’s Day in Sweden, in which girls and boys dress in white and carry or wear lights.

Others — like the modern incarnation of Boxing Day — have evolved into commercial sales events.

Below is a chart detailing several holidays, their background and links to further information.

Dates are accurate for 2008, as some will vary year-to-year based on the lunar cycle.

Holiday Background Bloggers & More
Bodhi Day Bodhi Day, or Rohatsu in Japanse, is a Buddhist holiday celebrating Siddharta Guatama’s enlightment (Dec. 8). A blogger celebrates the holiday.
Eid al Adha A Muslim day of sacrifice marking the end of the Hajj pilgrimage (Dec. 9). A blogger goes on the Hajj pilgrimage.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebrated primarily by Mexican Catholics, this holiday honors the country’s patron saint (Dec. 12). Deborah Bonello posts a video of Mexicans on a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Guadalupe.
St. Lucy’s Day Roman Catholics and Orthodox Greeks honor a virgin martyr and the patron saint of the blind (Dec. 13). See Flickr images of Lucia day, the Swedish celebration.
Pancha Ganapati A five-day Hindu celebration honoring Ganesh (Dec. 21). Read more about the celebration.
Hanukkah The eight-day Jewish festival of lights commemorates tha restoration of the temple in Jerusalem (Dec. 21). Eric Molinsky of “Weekend America” looks at Hanukkah’s place in modern culture.
Yule/Winter Solstice A Wiccan celebration of the rebirth of the sun (Dec. 21). Watch a YouTube video of Wiccans celebrating Yule.
Tohji-taisai The Japanese Shinto celebration of the winter solstice (Dec. 22). Learn more about the celebration and Shinto religion.
Christmas A Christian holiday marking the birth of Jesus Christ (Dec. 25). Read Martin Savidge’s Christmas memories here.
Zarathosht Diso Zoroastrians mourn the death of prophet Zarathushtra on this day (Dec. 26). Read more about the Zoroastrian tradition.
Boxing Day The secular festival that occurs along with the Christian St. Stephen’s Day is now known for after-Christmas sales (Dec. 26). Celebrated in the U.K., Canada, New Zealand and Australia, among others. Read more about the sales.
Kwanzaa A seven-day African holiday that celebrates ancestry and heritage (Dec. 26). A blogger writes about the reasons to celebrate Kwanzaa.
Al-Hijra This Islamic new year is the first day of the month of Muharram (Dec. 29). A blogger discusses Al-Hijra from Dubai.
Ōmisoka The Japanese new year celebration (Dec. 31). A blogger writes about the Japanese new year and traditional “toshikoshi-soba” noodles.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user penny_7b under a Creative Commons license.

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