December may usher in colder days and longer nights, but it’s also a month filled with many important celebrations, both religious and secular, that bring people together to enjoy cherished traditions, and to rally in support of each other.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are some very special events that the friends, family, and neighbours around you may be marking in the coming weeks.
Hanukkah: 28 November – 6 December 2021
This eight-day celebration of light honours the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. According to Chabad.org1 , when the Jews went to light the temple’s Menorah (a seven-branch candelabrum) after defeating the Greek army, they discovered that there was only enough olive oil to keep the menorah lit for one day—but somehow the oil lasted for eight days. Hanukkah is a celebration of this miracle. Traditional foods associated with this bright and beautiful holiday include potato latkes, doughnuts (Sufganiyot), and applesauce.
World AIDS Day: 1 December
An estimated 38 million people around the globe are living with AIDS, and more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS-related illnesses since the virus was discovered in 1984.2 World AIDS day offers an opportunity for people across the globe to join the fight against HIV, to show their support for those living with it, and to remember and honour those who have died.3 According to WorldAidsDay.Org, you can show your solidarity by wearing a red ribbon or donating to the National AIDS Trust, which raises awareness and helps to champion the rights of people living with HIV.
International Day of People With Disabilities: 3 December
While it’s celebrated annually on 3 December, International Day of People with Disabilities is a year-long movement designed to break down barriers to inclusion and advocate for the rights of people living with disabilities.4 It’s estimated that over 1 billion people in the world have some form of disability, and more than 100 million of those are children.5 This is a great day to contact your government representatives if you see examples of barriers to inclusion where you live, such as inaccessible public buildings, poor lighting, and narrow pavements or doorways that can’t easily accommodate a wheelchair.
Bohdi Day: 8 December
For Buddhists, Bohdi day marks the moment when the Buddha realised enlightenment after six years of searching for peace of mind. In that moment, he became the Buddha, or “the one who is awake.”6 In keeping with the peaceful nature of the religion and the Buddha’s solitary quest for enlightenment, this day is generally observed quietly with meditation, chanting practices, or simple tea and cookies.7
Christmas: 25 December
Christmas marks the celebration of the birth of Christ—the man Christians around the world recognise as their savior. Traditions vary from family to family, but in addition to attending church services, families usually gather together to celebrate with a large festive feast complete with traditional desserts like Christmas pudding. Many Christians (and non-Christians alike) also enjoy the secular tradition of Santa Claus and gift-giving at this time of year.
Kwanzaa: 26 December– 1 January 2022
This non-religious holiday was created by Professor Maulana Karenga in 1966 as a way for black families to come together to celebrate their ancestral roots.8 Each day of this beautiful seven-day celebration is dedicated to a different principle: unity, self-determination, collective responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. On the sixth day, a feast called Karamu is held featuring African American, traditional African, Caribbean, and South American dishes.9 If you’re interested in exploring these dishes, check out allrecipes, The Daily Meal, and Better Homes and Gardens.
Learning about the many different celebrations and important days to mark in December is a wonderful way to gain a greater understanding of the people and the world around us.
Remember, no matter what you’re celebrating this season, if you’re a Foresters Financial member, you can make the holidays a little more special for a charitable organisation you care about with Foresters Care. This one-time grant of £200 offers a hands-on way to quickly make a positive impact right in your own community. The last day for 2021 applications is 17 December, so visit MyForesters.com to find out more and apply today.