(Updated 12/2/2023) Holiday Traditions – The holidays are a time to spend with family and friends, and that is just what I plan to do this year during Christmas week.
Instead of blogging about the usual SacramentoRevealed.com topics during this holiday season, I thought that you may find a description of the holiday traditions of various different cultures of interest.
Following is a sampling of holiday traditions of various different cultures – past and present. You will notice that many of the holiday traditions have a common theme – family, gifts, feasting and goodwill.
Bodhi Day. Bodhi Day is a holiday celebrated by Buddhists. The day commemorates the day that Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, achieved enlightenment. The day is celebrated with with meditation, chanting, or performing act of kindness to others.
Hanukkah. Hanukkah is an eight-day festival celebrating the re-dedication of the temple following a successful revolt by the Jews over their Seleucid conquerors. According to tradition, during the re-dedication ceremony, only a day’s worth of oil for the menorah could be found, yet the holy lamp stayed lit for eight days. Because the dates for Hanukkah are set by the Hebrew calendar, the festival dates can range between late November and late December.
St. Lucia’s Day. St. Lucia’s Day, the festival of lights, is celebrated in Sweden, Norway, and the Swedish-speaking regions of Finland in honor of St. Lucia. One of the earliest Christian martyrs, St. Lucia was killed by the Romans because of her religious beliefs. Each town elects its own St. Lucia. The festival begins with a procession led by the St. Lucia designee. Young girls dressed in white and wearing lighted wreaths on their heads, and boys dressed in white pajama-like costumes follow singing traditional songs. The festival marks the beginning of the Christmas season in Scandinavia.
Saturnalia. Saturnalia was the ancient Roman festival in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. 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. During the Winter Solstice the Saami 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.
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.
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