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HPPR Arts, Culture & History

Variety of religious holidays celebrated in December

If you’re searching for a holiday greeting that covers the myriad of religious holidays and observances celebrated in December, "Happy Holidays" really does cover it. 

According to 2016 Inter-faith calendar, the month of December is chock-full of holidays including those observed by Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, pagans, Jews and Zoroastrians.

Never heard of Zoroastrianism? It dates back to ancient Greece and is believed to have actually influenced the world’s more well-known religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica, and is also believed to have inspired astrology and magic. Zoroastrians believe the Iranian prophet Zarathustra founded the religion and according to the website, interfaith-calendar.org, Dec. 26 is Zoroastrians’ observance of Zarathustra’s death.

Kwanzaa, an annual holiday that affirms African family and social values, also begins Dec. 26 but is celebrated through Jan. 1 each year. The holiday draws on Southern African first-fruits celebrations, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica, and each of the seven days of the celebration is dedicated to one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani).

On each day the family comes together to light one of the candles in the kinara, or candleholder, and to discuss the principle for the day. On December 31, families join in a community feast called the karamu. Some participants wear traditional African clothing during the celebration.

A complete list of holidays observed throughout the year can be found in a Huffington Post article published earlier this year or at Interfaith-calendar.org.