The following information on various religious celebrations during the months of November and December comes from Deseret News.
December has finally arrived, and with it comes an abundance of colorful lights, vibrant decorations and family parties. Most of these celebrations are inspired by Christmas and Hanukkah, the two major religious holidays celebrated by Christians and Jewish believers, respectively, in America.
But those are not the only religious holidays that some families may celebrate together. In fact, the Interfaith Calendar organization lists 14 religious holidays for the month of December. Below are those holidays with a short explanation of each.
November (date varies): Mawlid el-Nabi — Islam
This is an Islamic holiday that honors the birth of the prophet Muhammad, who founded Islam. Shia and Sunni believers will celebrate on separate days by reading the prophet’s teachings.
November (date varies): Advent Fast begins — Orthodox Christian
Though Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, the fasting starts midway through the month with only two weeks until Christmas. The holiday is celebrated by believers lighting advent candles, hanging wreaths and attending church ceremonies.
December 6: Saint Nicholas Day — Christian
This holiday honors the birth of Saint Nicholas, the saint who serves as a role model for gift-giving and is commonly known as Santa Claus.
December (date varies): Hanukkah — Judaism
This is the eight-day Jewish festival of lights, which celebrates the Maccabean revolt in Judea. Eight candles are lit with a menorah to honor the holiday.
December 8: Immaculate Conception — Catholic
In the lead-up to Jesus’ birthday celebration on Christmas, Catholics celebrate the day of Immaculate Conception to honor his mother Mary, who they say was preserved from original sin for her entire life.
December 12: Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe — Catholic
This is a primarily Catholic holiday celebrated by Mexicans and Americans of Mexican descent that honors the reported appearance of the Virgin Mary in Mexico City.
December 17: Posadas Navidenas — Christian
This is a primarily Hispanic Christian holiday that commends Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus.
December 21: Solstice — Wicca/Pagan
Solstice is the point in the year “when the earth is most inclined away from the sun. It is the most southern or northern point depending on the hemisphere,” according to Interfaith Calendar. Pagans and Wicca believers will celebrate that event through Yule, in which believers also honor “the winter-born king, symbolized by the rebirth of the sun.”
December 25: Christmas — Christian
Christmas is a primarily Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Many will attend church, have family parties and exchange gifts.
December 26: Zarathosht Diso (Death of Prophet Zarathustra) — Zoroastrian
Unlike many of the other holidays in the month, Zoroastrians honor the death of their prophet, Zarathustra, who founded Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions.
December (Date varies): Feast of the Holy Family — Catholic
Catholics use this day to honor Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
December 28: Holy Innocents Day — Christian
Christians solemnly honor the deaths of children killed by King Herod, who was attempting to kill Jesus.
December 31: Watch Night — Christian
Christian religious service held on New Year’s Eve and associated, in many African American churches, with a celebration and remembrance of the Emancipation Proclamation (enacted January 1, 1863), which freed slaves in the Confederate states during the American Civil War.
January 24: Rohatsu (Bodhi Day) — Buddhist
This holiday celebrates the historical Buddha’s decision and vow to sit under the Bodhi tree until he reached spiritual enlightenment. It is celebrated through meditation and is embraced similar to how Christians celebrate Christmas to honor Jesus Christ.