A core part of the ridiculous faux “War on Christmas” is the fact that many secularized organizations like schools, retailers, and restaurants will wish people a “Happy Holidays!” instead of a “Merry Christmas!” It is evidently just horribly rude to some Christians that said secularized organizations would completely “ignore” Christmas in favor of being “politically correct.” I mean, the reason for the season is totally Christmas, right?
Hmm, not exactly. While above 75% of Americans identify as Christians, they don’t all celebrate the same way, which means that some of them celebrate something other than Christmas or celebrate Christmas in different ways. In addition, non-Christians have their own holidays during December, which can be just as important to them as Christmas. So saying “Happy Holidays” isn’t necessarily an attack on Christmas – it’s just an acknowledgement that people will be celebrating about three dozen holidays during December. So why not wish them a happy holiday too? Are they not worthy of the courtesy? Our their holidays not important too?
So let’s learn about these holidays, shall we?
- Kislev 25 – Hanukkah – Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration commemorating the Jewish people’s successful re-habitation of their Temple after their Hellenic rulers drove them out. Depending on the Jewish calendar, it can occur in either November or December.
- Fourth Sunday preceding December – Advent – This period is basically a countdown for Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. Christians will often fast and repent of their sins in preparation for Christ’s birth.
- December 1 – World AIDS Day – World AIDS Day is the chance for people all over the world to show their support and solidarity with the approximately 34 million people living with the virus and 35 million people who have died from it.
- First week of December – Chalica – This weeklong Unitarian Universalist celebration allows people to reflect on seven different principles, do good deeds, and gather together to worship.
- December 5 – Krampusnacht – Krampus Night is the night before Saint Nicholas’ Day when the Krampus, an evil hairy devil, visits homes and businesses, punishing the wicked.
- December 6 – Saint Nicholas’ Day – On this day, Saint Nicholas visits children and gives them small gifts. Churches often have services. People who use the Gregorian calendar will celebrate this on December 19; it is a major gift-giving day for them.
- December 8 – Bodhi Day – This holiday commemorates the day that the Buddha achieved enlightenment. Buddhists celebrate by meditating, studying, chanting, and performing kind acts. Some may also have a special meal of tea, cakes, and readings.
- December 10 – Human Rights Day – This day commemorates when the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. There are often international celebrations.
- December 13 – Saint Lucia’s Day – This holiday celebrates Saint Lucia, a young Christian girl who was martyred for her faith in 304 CE. Families celebrate by having a girl dress in a white dress with a sash and crown of candles. They will visit hospitals, old folks’ homes, and pass out cookies and sing. It’s especially important in Scandinavia.
- December 15 – Zamenhof Day – This day celebrates the birthday of LL Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto. Esperanto clubs will get together, hold parties, listen to lectures, and hold concerts.
- December 16 – 24 – Las Posadas – These nine nights of celebration commemorate Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to say in Bethlehem. They’re especially important in Latin American countries like Mexico and include processionals and singing.
- December 21 – Yalda Night – On this night, Iranians (and some Central Asian countries) celebrate the longest night of the year, the arrival of winter, and the return of the sun. Families gather and stay up all night eating traditional foods like watermelon and pomegranate and reading classical poetry and mythology.
- December 21 – Soyal – This Zuni and Hopi American Indian celebration helps ceremoniously bring back the sun and start the cycle of another year. It is a time for blessings and the opening of sacred underground ritual chambers.
- December 21 – 25 – Pancha Ganapati – This Hindu family festival of giving encourages people to mend past mistakes and start anew. Hindus especially worship Lord Ganesha, gather with their families, and set up shrines.
- Eve of the winter solstice – Longest Night – On this night, Christians go to their churches for sermons on loss and grief.
- December 23 – HumanLight – This Humanist holiday celebrates Humanism’s positive, secular vision: reason, compassion, hope, and humanity. People can gather together and have events, speeches, and lectures.
- December 24 – Christmas Eve – This is the day before Christmas. Christian families celebrate in a variety of ways, often by getting together, having a meal, and giving gifts. Some will also go to a midnight mass.
- December 25 – Christmas Day – On this day, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died for their sins. Families often gather, give gifts, eat meals, or go to church.
- December 25 – Anastasia of Sirmium Feast – Saint Anastasia of Sirmium was a woman martyred for her faith in the third century CE. Not sure what people do on her feast day. It might just be an observance (Celebrated on the 22nd in the East.).
- December 25 – January 6 – Twelve Days of Christmas – These are twelve feast/saint days dedicated to a different saint and leading up to the Twelfth Night, a big celebration. People don’t necessarily celebrate every day.
- December 25 – Newtonmas – Some atheists will celebrate this day in honor of Sir Isaac Newton’s birthday. They might observe general Christmas/holiday traditions but emphasis science and reason by having scientist ornaments and tree toppers, give cards that say, “Reason’s Greetings!” and give away apples.
- December 25 – Quaid-e-Azam’s Day – This is a public holiday in Pakistan and commemorates the birthday of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. People usually get the day off of work.
- December 26 – Boxing Day – This is the day after Christmas when friends gather and exchange gifts. It is most common in former colonies of the British Empire.
- December 26 – Saint Stephen’s Day – This holiday commemorates the first martyr, Saint Stephen, and was originally used to give things to the poor or lower classes. It’s now been subsumed by Boxing Day.
- December 26 – January 1 – Kwanzaa – Kwanzaa is an African-American and Pan African holiday created in 1966. It derives from several African harvest celebrations and is a means to create a wider African community. Over the week, families gather and light seven candles related to seven principles. They might also have a large meal, do songs and dances, and tell stories. The holiday culminates in a large party called Karamu.
- December 27 – Saint John the Evangelist’s Day – This honors Saint John the Evangelist, the supposed author of the Gospel of John. It is mostly held by Scottish Masonic lodges to commemorate his teachings.
- December 28 – Holy Innocents’ Day – This day commemorates the massacre of the children King Herod killed attempting to find and kill the baby Jesus. It can also be a day of celebration for children.
- December 31 – Saint Sylvester’s Day – This day honors Saint Sylvester, who was pope when Emperor Constantine declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. It is celebrated in various ways around the world, though most notably by setting bonfires, ringing bells, and trying to touch certain good luck animals.
- December 31 – Watch Night – Watch Night is a special Christian church service that starts before midnight and continues afterwards. It gives Christians the opportunity to confess and reflect on the past year.
- December 31 – New Year’s Eve – This is the last day of the year and when people around the world celebrate with friends and family. There are usually parties, alcohol, and watching countdown clocks.
- December 31 – Omisoka – This Japanese holiday celebrates the coming new year. During the day, people clean and purify their houses and have a large family meal. At night, they visit Shinto shrines and stay out late.
- December 31 – January 1 – Hogmanay – Hogmanay is Scotland’s New Year’s celebration. Scottish people clean their homes, pay their debts, sing, and visit friends on the new year.
- December – Dongzhi – The Dongzhi celebration happens on the winter solstice. On this day, families get together, eat, and celebrate. It’s an important cultural event for Chinese people.
- Late December – Yule – Yule is usually between December 20 and 23 and is similar to both winter solstice and Christmas celebrations in that it celebrates the shortest day of the year and involves singing and decorating. Some neopagans celebrate it by feasting and giving gifts.
Happy Holidays, everyone.
*Note: Comment below to add corrections or additions!