December Holidays That Aren't Christmas
While Christmas is the best-known December holiday, there are a number of others during this month. Some have come and gone, while others still remain to be celebrated.
December 1st - Krampus
Krampus is the little-known German tradition where young men dress up as horrifying monsters and scare both children and adults.
The present day Krampus costume consists of wooden masks or Larve, sheep's skin and horns. Considerable effort goes into the manufacture of the hand-crafted masks, as many younger adults in rural communities engage competitively in the Krampus events.
December 8 - Bodhi Day (Buddhism)
Taking place on the Sunday immediately preceding December 8, followers of Buddhism celebrate Bodhi Day, which recalls the day when the Buddha achieved enlightenment.
BUDDHISM: On DEC-8, or on the Sunday immediately preceding, Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day (a.k.a. Rohatsu). It recalls the day in 596 BCE, when the Buddha achieved enlightenment. He had left his family and possessions behind at the age of 29, and sought the meaning of life -- particularly the reasons for its hardships.
December 8 - Eid al-Adha
One of the two most important holidays in Islam is Eid al-Adha, which falls on December 8 in 2008. It honours Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to God, and is generally celebrated by visiting friends, eating festive meals and giving small gifts to children.
Eid al-Adha: The Festival of Sacrifice, this Muslim holiday honours Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God. One of the two most important holidays in Islam, it follows the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) and is celebrated on Monday, December 8 in 2008. People who observe this holiday dress in their finest clothes, visit family, eat festive meals, and children receive gifts and treats.
December 21 - Hanukkah (Chanukah)
While not a hugely important tradition, at least compared to Yom Kippur, it has gained much status due to its proximity to Christmas. Hanukkah is celebrated with 8 days of gifts, and small games such as the dreidel.
Another tradition of the holiday is playing dreidel, a gambling game played with a square top. Most people play for matchsticks, pennies, M&Ms or chocolate coins. The traditional explanation of this game is that during the time of Antiochus' oppression, those who wanted to study Torah (an illegal activity) would conceal their activity by playing gambling games with a top (a common and legal activity) whenever an official or inspector was within sight.
December 20-23 Winter Solstice
Numerous religions and traditions dating back thousands of years have celebrated the Winter Solstice, which takes place between December 20-23 in the nothern hemisphere.
In most forms of Wicca, this holiday is celebrated at the winter solstice as the rebirth of the Great God, who is viewed as the newborn solstice sun. The method of gathering for this sabbat varies by practitioner. Some have private ceremonies at home, while others do so with their covens.
Even vampires need to celebrate, or should I say 'vampyres', real humans who 'need' to feed on human blood. They celebrate in groups to celebrate the solstice.
Vampyres celebrate "the Long Night," a festival at the Winter Solstice. Many groups of vampyres gather together at this time to celebrate.
December 23 - Festivus
What began as the early childhood recollections of a writer on Seinfeld, an episode where George Costanza's family celebrated 'Festivus', which included such memorable traditions as 'the airing of grievances' and the 'feats of strength'
The holiday includes novel practices such as the "Airing of Grievances", in which each person tells everyone else all the ways they have disappointed him or her over the past year. Also, after the Festivus meal, the "Feats of Strength" are performed, involving wrestling the head of the household to the floor, with the holiday only ending if the head of the household is actually pinned.
December 26 to January 1 - Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa is a week-long holiday which honors African heritage. It was first created in 1966 and is celebrated world-wide.
KWANZAA, the African-American cultural holiday conceived and developed by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, was first celebrated on December 26, 1966. Kwanzaa is traditionally celebrated from December 26 through January 1, with each day focused on Nguzo Saba, or the seven principles. Derived from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first fruits", Kwanzaa is rooted in the first harvest celebrations practiced in various cultures in Africa.
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