A World of Many Religions and Cultures

A World of Many Religions and Cultures

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Sebastian Cantarilho ‘24, Staff Writer

If I were to say December or January, would you most likely think of Christmas? New Years? Hanukkah or Kwanza? If so, you are missing out on many other important holidays that happen during this time period. Besides the four holidays above, many cultures have different holidays that are SUPER important and super interesting.

For starters, Boxing Day, also known as St. Stephen’s Day, is a not-so-well-known holiday in the United States. On this holiday, which takes place December 26 and began in the United Kingdom, the Church and other volunteers/people open the Church collection boxes for the poor and distribute them to the needy. Historically, this was also the day where servants would celebrate Christmas with their family and friends. This holiday is celebrated in many countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and more! Besides the distribution of the collection boxes, other events are held. In the United Kingdom, soccer games and horse races are held. Ireland parades a pole with a fake wren called Hunting the Wren, and the Bahamas have a street parade, which they call Junkanoo. 

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Another little known holiday is Zaratosht no diso, the death anniversary of the prophet Zarathustra. Zarathustra created Zoroastrianism, which is an ancient monotheistic religion. Little is known about the holiday, but the Zoroastrians celebrate it on December 26. Also in December, Ōmisoka, the second most important holiday for the Japanese, occurs on the 31st. This holiday celebrates the Last Day of the Year. Usually, it includes eating toshikoshi-soba or toshikoshi-udon, which are long noodles representing the crossing over from one year to the next. They also visit shrines at midnight. A Buddhist temple strikes a large cast bell 108 times to represent all 108 of the earthly desires that lead to human suffering.

Finally, on January 17, the Baha’i celebrate World Religion Day. World Religion Day is a universal holiday that promotes the understanding and harmony between different faiths. The holiday occurs with various events worldwide, like parades, speeches, and even a mention on the radio that help people of different religions acknowledge other faiths. They also help religions see similarities and differences between faiths, allowing for a better understanding of people’s lives and world views.

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As you can see, our world is full of beautiful holidays and cultural events that not everyone knows. If you would like to celebrate, or learn more about any of these holidays, research the religious communities in your area and see what they observe — but don’t forget your mask if you do. By being open-minded and curious, we can learn more about these other cultural events and even learn how to participate, engage, and respect them.

 

Sources: 

WorldStrides: https://worldstrides.com/blog/2015/12/december-holidays-around-the-world/amp/ 

Desert News: https://www.deseret.com/2018/11/27/20577947/these-are-the-14-religious-holidays-believers-celebrate-in-december#think-december-is-all-about-hanukkah-and-christmas-think-again-here-are-12-major-religious-holidays-in-december 

Drexel University: https://drexel.edu/provost/policies/religious_observances_calendar/

https://www.awarenessdays.com/awareness-days-calendar/world-religion-day-2020/