The holidays are a time to spend with family and friends, and that is what I plan to do for the next several days.
Instead of blogging about the usual SacramentoRevealed.com topics during this holiday season, I thought it would be interesting to learn about the holiday traditions of various different cultures.
Following is a sampling of holiday traditions of various different cultures – past and present. Please feel free to comment and add to this list of holiday traditions. You will notice that many of the holiday traditions have a common theme – family, gifts, feasting and goodwill.
Bodhi Day is a holiday celebrated by Buddhists that commemorates the day that Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, achieved enlightenment. Bodhi Day is traditionally observed on December 8th. The day is celebrated with meditation, chanting, or performing act of kindness to other beings.
Saturnalia. Saturnalia was the ancient Roman festival in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. Saturnalia was held from December 17th through December 23rd. Saturnalia featured a relaxation of social restrictions and role reversals between upper class Romans and the lower classes. Gift giving, feasting, and drinking figured prominently in the holiday.
Beiwe Festival. The Beiwe Festival was celebrated by the Saami, a Finno-Ugric people who originated in what is now Scandinavia. The Saami, during the Winter Solstice, would honor Beiwe – the sun goddess. The Saami would sacrifice a white female reindeer and smear butter onto their doorposts to provide sustenance to the goddess.
Dongzhi Festival. The Dongzhi Festival is a Chinese celebration marking the winter solstice and the arrival of winter. Throughout China the festival is a time for family to get together. Tangyuan, brightly colored balls made from rice flour, are traditionally served during the Dongzhi Festival.
Pancha Ganapati. Pancha Ganapati is a Hindu festival celebrating Lord Ganesha that takes place from December 21st through December 25th. The festival focuses on mending past mistakes and offers a chance at a new beginning. Each of the five days focuses on creating love and harmony in relationships or bringing forth love and harmony from the world. Each morning children dress a statue of Lord Ganesha in a different color. The children are given gifts each day which they place in front of the statue. On the fifth day the children are allowed to open the presents.
Soyal. Soyal is a ceremony performed by the Zuni and Hopi peoples on the date of the winter solstice to begin the next year. The ceremony lasts nine days and marks the arrival of the kachinas – benevolent spirt beings that remain with the group until the summer solstice. During the ceremony adults will dress up as kachinas and dance. The kachinas often give gifts to the children.
Next Up: Holiday Traditions (Part 2 of 3)