Many religions celebrate in December

For most of the year, our home is shrouded by trees that block the glare of street lights. Even when the leaves fall in mid-October, the ground and surroundings absorb most of the light.
Suddenly that changes with the first snowfall—and our street corner becomes much brighter at night.
When the Christmas lights go up, they bring added brightness to the neighborhood. On homes and trees across the district, Christmas lights are being turned on at night.
Across the northern hemispheres in December, we watch as the days grow shorter and the nights longer. Yet we ward off the darkness by lighting the night with sparkling twinkling lights and candles.
This past weekend, most of the churches across the district began the countdown to Christmas with the first Sunday of Advent.
Other religions also have celebrations to mark this time of year. The early Christian believers took Dec. 25 to coincide with the pagan festival of Saturnalia, which signified the rebirth of the sun as it began its return to the north.
One of the oldest religions, that of witchcraft, will celebrate Wicca on Dec. 21, marking the winter solstice—the solstice that marks the longest night.
Often our differences in religious celebrations are more common than we know.
Those of Buddhist faith, for instance, will celebrate Bodhi Day (Rohatsu) on Dec. 8. The day may be the most important to Buddhists in that in marks the enlightenment that Shakyamuni Buddha attained.
Dec. 8 also marks the beginning of the Jewish festival Hanukkah, or Feast of Lights, that concludes on Dec. 16. Even though we may not celebrate Hanukkah, we do celebrate the festival of light. Hanukkah, too, has the sharing of gifts.
Those of the Orthodox Christian faith will begin the Advent fast on Dec. 12 and Christmas Eve will be celebrated on Jan. 7. Those of the Eastern Orthodox faith will wait to Jan. 25 to celebrate Christmas.
Kwanzaa will be celebrated from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. It is the youngest of the holidays that are marked in December, getting its start in 1966.
Kwanzaa is a unique African-American festival that focuses on African values of family, community responsibility, and self-improvement. In its short time, Kwanzaa has gained acceptance and today is celebrated by more than 18 million people.
Many of these celebrations carry on the celebration of light. Those of the Jewish faith will light their Menorah. African-Americans celebrating Kwanzaa will light the Kinara—a seven-candle candelabra.
Christians will light five advent candles, with the last being lit on Christmas.
Christmas is celebrated with the colours of white, red, and green while those of Kwanzaa are black, red, and green.
There are many similarities in these celebrations. Similarly different cultures find different ways to celebrate Christmas.
We may not see all of these celebrations in Rainy River District, but they are taking place across the country.

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