December has always been a busy month for billions of people worldwide. It is not just the last month of the year but also the month during which believers celebrate different religious festivities. One can easily say December is a month of festivities and celebrations for a multitude of believers.
Whether you are a Catholic, a Christian, or a Jew, here are 12 December holidays religions celebrate around the world:
Christmas, Dec. 25 (Christian). Perhaps no other religious celebration is more famous and widely celebrated than Christmas. Christians believe it to be the day Jesus Christ was born in a manger in Bethlehem, located in modern-day Israel. Christ's birth is called the Nativity, and the site where early Christian traditions point as Jesus's birthplace has a church built on top, the Church of the Nativity. Filipino Christians celebrate the longest Christmas in the world, beginning as early as September each year. One can typically see Christmas lights, Christmas trees, Nativity displays, and other traditional symbols in the homes of Christians, as well as gift-givings and singing of Christmas carols.
Saint Nicholas Day, Dec. 6 (Christian). Every Christian kid knows who Santa Claus is, as he is often called Father Christmas. Christians worldwide celebrate Saint Nicholas' birth on Dec. 6 every year, which is marked by exchanging gifts for which Saint Nicholas was credited for popularizing among Christian believers. So if you want an excuse to give (or receive) gifts before Christmas, then Saint Nicholas Day is the perfect occasion to do just that.
Posadas Navidenas, Dec. 16-25 (Christian). Christians of Hispanic descent celebrate this holiday. It commemorates the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. Mexicans in rural villages and towns hold reenactments of the journey through street processions with actors playing Mary, Joseph, and pilgrims who accompanied Christ's parents to Bethlehem.
Holy Innocents Day, Dec. 28 (Christian). The Holy Innocents Day (also called "Niños Inocentes") commemorates the innocent male infants aged two and under that King Herod ordered killed in the hope of killing Jesus, who was foretold as the Messiah.
Watch Night, Dec. 31 (Christian). Christians worldwide offer gratitude to God for the protection they received for the entire year. Christians have confessions, prayers, and vigil during this day as they welcome the New Year. This solemn celebration dates back to biblical times, making it among the oldest religious traditions in the world celebrated every December.
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8 (Catholic). Catholics believe that Jesus Christ's mother, Mary, gave birth to the Messiah as a woman without sin. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (which pertains to Mary's conception inside her mother's womb) began in 1854 through an encyclical issued by Pope Pius IX. Mary, also called the Blessed Mother, was said to have appeared in 1858 before St. Bernadette in a grotto in Lourdes, France, and told her that she was "the Immaculate Conception." Just like Bodhi Day, it is a solemn occasion without fanfare among Catholics.
Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec. 12 (Catholic). This Catholic holiday commemorates the Virgin Mary's appearance in Guadalupe, Mexico City, which is why Mexican Catholics and American Catholics of Mexican descent mainly celebrate it. The Our Lady of Guadalupe has been named the patron of the Americas and Queen of Mexico. Her image was said to have miraculously appeared on a piece of fabric, which makes it similar to the Turin Shroud, allegedly bearing the bloodied image of Christ's face and body on a linen cloth used to wrap his mortal remains.
Feast of the Holy Family, Dec. 30 (Catholic). The yearly Feast of the Holy Family honors Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. Coptics first celebrated this holiday, but it was only officially recognized by the Catholic Church in 1921 under Pope Benedict XV.
Rohatsu (Bodhi Day), Dec. 8 (Buddhist). Buddhists worldwide remember Buddha's achieving Nirvana or spiritual enlightenment under a Bodhi tree, hence the name of the celebration. Buddha was a historical figure known as Siddharta Gautama, who was born in Nepal between the 6th to 4th century BCE and died in Kasia, India. Buddhists attempt to emulate Buddha's life of meditation during this day, so it is a rather solemn celebration, unlike other religious holidays characterized by merrymaking.
Hanukkah, Dec. 18-26 (Judaism). Jews around the world celebrate the yearly Hannukah from Dec. 18 to 26. Hannukah commemorates the Maccabees' revolt in Egypt by lighting eight candles. The Jewish holiday is also called a festival of lights. Hannukah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the second century B.C.
Winter Solstice, Dec. 21 (Wicca/Neo-Pagan). This celebration honors the Pagan king, who was born in winter, which occurs during a period when the earth is farthest from the sun. Wiccans and Pagans celebrate Winter Solstice through Yule, during which they believe the sun undergoes a rebirth.
Zarathost-no-Diso, Dec. 26 (Zoroastrian). Zoroastrians across the world celebrate Zarathost-no-Diso or the death of Prophet Zarathustra. Zoroastrian ranks among the world's oldest monotheistic religions, or the belief in one God, just like the Christians.
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