Thursday, December 12, 2013

Happy Holiday!

Happy Holiday! There are those in our community who would restrict religious freedom by insisting that the only “appropriate” greeting at this time of year is “Merry Christmas.” Such people are isolated from the greater community of the world and would restrict this time to their own convenience.
  Indeed, the end of a year is important to many in this country, for whom there is religious freedom guaranteed in the Constitution, who are persuaded by various beliefs. Wikipedia (not necessarily the best source: they didn't mention Epiphany ) lists at least 29 winter celebrations in December and 4 in January, around the world. With our college community there are many who may hold these truths to be self evident, that all beliefs shall be held in esteem.
  To put this into economic focus, no business in central Michigan can have a sign available for each and every one of these celebrations. The best alternative for them is “Happy Holidays.” And so it should be. Telling those of other beliefs “to go back to their own countries” would be to tell the Pilgrims to go back to England (where they would be imprisoned or worse). Here, then, are the holidays:
December • Advent: four weeks prior to Christmas (Western Christianity). • Chalica: A holiday created in 2005, in the first full week in December, celebrated by some Unitarian Universalists. • Saint Nicholas' Day: 6 December • Bodhi Day: 8 December - Day of Enlightenment, celebrating the day that the historical Buddha (Shakyamuni or Siddhartha Gautama) experienced enlightenment (also known as Bodhi). • Saint Lucy's Day: 13 December - Church Feast Day. Saint Lucy comes as a young woman with lights and sweets. • Winter Solstice: 21 December-22 December - midwinter • Dongzhi Festival - a celebration of Winter • Soyal: 21 December - Zuni and Hopi • Yalda: 21 December - The turning point, Winter Solstice. As the longest night of the year and the beginning of the lengthening of days, Shabe Yaldā or Shabe Chelle is an Iranian festival celebrating the victory of light and goodness over darkness and evil. Shabe yalda means 'birthday eve.' According to Persian mythology, Mithra was born at dawn on the 22nd of December to a virgin mother. He symbolizes light, truth, goodness, strength, and friendship. Herodotus reports that this was the most important holiday of the year for contemporary Persians. In modern times Persians celebrate Yalda by staying up late or all night, a practice known as Shab Chera meaning 'night gazing'. Fruits and nuts are eaten, especially pomegranates and watermelons, whose red color invokes the crimson hues of dawn and symbolize Mithra. • Mōdraniht: or Mothers' Night, the Saxon winter solstice festival. • Saturnalia: the Roman winter solstice festival • Pancha Ganapati: Five-day festival in honor of Lord Ganesha. December 21–25. • Christmas Eve: 24 December • Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (Day of the birth of the Unconquered Sun): late Roman Empire - 25 December • Christmas: 25 December • Twelve Days of Christmas: 25 December through 6 January • Yule: Pagan winter festival that was celebrated by the historical Germanic people from late December to early January. • Anastasia of Sirmium Feast Day: 25 December • Malkh: 25 December • Boxing Day: 26 December - Gift-giving day after Christmas. • Kwanzaa: 26 December - 1 January - Pan-African festival celebrated in North America • Saint Stephen's Day: 26 December • Saint John the Evangelist's Day: 27 December • Holy Innocents' Day: 28 December • Saint Sylvester's Day: 31 December • Watch Night: 31 December • New Year's Eve: 31 December - Last day of the Gregorian year • Hogmanay: Night of 31 December - Before dawn of 1 January - Scottish New Year's Eve celebration • Hanukkah: A Jewish festival celebrating the miracle of oil • The Epiphany.
  January • New Year's Day: 1 January - First day of the Gregorian year • Saint Basil's Day: 1 January (Christian Orthodox) In Greece, traditionally he is the Father Christmas figure. • Twelfth Night: Epiphany Eve: 5 January • Epiphany: 6 January: the arrival of the Three Magi. • Armenian Apostolic Christmas: 6 January
  When I brought these to the Editorial Board several snickered at the likes of Chalica and particularly Bodhi. They were also amused by Dongzhi, Soyal, and Yalda. In our region, however, there are Unitarians, Buddhists, Chinese, Native Americans, and Iranians.
  My wife and I are particularly fond of Advent (we eagerly open calendar doors), the Winter Solsctice, Christmas Eve, Christmas, the 12 Days of Christmas, the New Year, and our wedding anniversary (strange it wasn’t mentioned in the list). To you all: Happy Holidays!

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