Happy Holidays! For some of us, today is Christmas, and for others it may have been or will be Hanukkah or Bodhi Day or Three Kings Day (to name a few). Whatever you celebrate or hold in reverence today, I wish you the very best.
Did you know that religious holidays have this funny way of occurring around the same time?
Hanukkah (Dec. 24-Jan. 1)
Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is an eight day celebration that commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BCE where legend says that the Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors. Often called the Festival of Lights, the holiday is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah, special foods, games and gifts.
Bodhi Day (Dec. 8 and/or Jan. 5)
Bodhi Day celebrates the Buddha’s enlightenment under a Bodhi tree. After six years of meditating and contemplating the pain, suffering, and illness that he had witnessed, he reached enlightenment and achieved nirvana. People will often celebrate in different ways depending on the tradition and country. However, it is often observed in a quiet way with informal Bodhi decorations or simple gatherings as a gesture toward the Buddha’s important quest for enlightenment.
Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, who Christians recognize as the son of God. This day marks the beginning of the prophecies of the Old Testament that a Savior would come to save God’s chosen people and take away the sins of the world. As both a sacred and commercial holidays, it is often celebrated with a decorated Christmas pine tree, gifts, or a Christmas church service.
Three Kings Day (Jan. 6)
Día de los reyes (Three Kings Day) is celebrated on January 6th to honor the Wise Men, who brought gifts for the baby Jesus. On this day, many families in Mexico, the U.S., Spain, and others exchange gifts and serve Rosca de reyes, or King’s cake. “Rosca” means wreath. This shape is then decorated with dried colorful fruit to represent what a crown may look like. Children will leave out their old shoes at night and wake up to find them filled with gifts from the Magi.