By: Daria Draskovic
Winter is here, meaning the holidays are coming! When many people think of the word “holidays”, more widespread and widely known ones such as Christmas usually come to mind. However, at this time of year, there are so many more multicultural holidays that many of us don’t know about! Here are just a few:
- Bodhi Day
This Buddhist holiday, celebrated on December 8 in the Westernized calendar, commemorates the moment of Buddha’s awakening. People who celebrate Bodhi Day light candles around altars or temples to symbolize enlightenment, and decorate trees with colored lights, signifying all things are united. It is celebrated by millions of people around the world!
This holiday, celebrated by many central Asian countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, commemorates the arrival of winter and the victory of light over darkness. On December 21, the winter solstice, family members get together and stay awake all night. Foods such as dried nuts, watermelon, and pomegranate are eaten, as it is believed that beginning winter by eating summer fruits will ward off sickness.
- St. Lucia’s Day
Mainly celebrated in Scandinavian countries, this day commemorates St. Lucia, a girl who was killed for her faith. It is believed that she would bring food to persecuted Christians, and carry a candle on her head. On December 13, the winter solstice, girls dress up in white dresses with red sashes to honor the saint. Schools and towns appoint their own St. Lucias, who wear a crown of candles on their heads. There is also a national Lucia, who visits hospitals and care homes. On this day, Lussekatts, which are raisin and saffron buns, are eaten.
Kwanzaa, an African cultural holiday, celebrates African heritage and culture. It is celebrated around the world, but mainly in the United States. Kwanzaa lasts seven days, from December 26 to January 1, and on each day a candle of the kinara, a seven-branched candle holder, is lit. Each day represents a principle of Kwanzaa, for example, the first day symbolizes Umoja, or unity. It was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga after the devastating race riots of the year before. Celebrations include dancing, singing, and poetry reading.
- Orthodox Christmas
This holiday, mainly celebrated by Eastern Europeans, celebrates the birth of Christ on January 7th, as they follow the Julian calendar. Traditionally, this holiday begins with a period of fasting 40 days before Christmas. After attending Christmas Eve mass, families celebrate by feasting and a variety of traditions based upon the country. For example, Serbian households bake a pogača or česnica (a kind of bread), and put a coin inside. The bread is broken apart among the family members, and the person who finds the coin is said to have good luck for the rest of the year.
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Raghebi, Kimia. “Yalda Night 2021 Celebrations in Iran: End of the Dark Night.” Visit Our
“10 multicultural holiday celebrations you may not know about.” Live & Learn, 22 July