A list of different holiday traditions celebrated by various religions

Decomber 05, 2016

Sandy Fales

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. But this holiday cheer doesn’t only apply to those who celebrate

Christmas on Dec. 25.

     UCCS students come from a variety of backgrounds and celebrate different holidays, according to Jeff Scholes, assistant professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life.

     While many students celebrate the traditional holidays of their religions, others are choosing to partake in nonreligious activities as well, said Scholes.

     “(The) most significant is the growing number of non-religious or secular, or spiritual, but not religious students at UCCS. They may or (may) not choose to merge religion into their holiday, and if so, they are not bound as much by history or tradition in doing so,” said Scholes.

     “From the variety within Christianity to non-Christian religious celebrations such as Hanukah andcKwanzaa, our students are a microcosm of the country as a whole.”


     Jewish students may celebrate Hanukkah, also known as the Jewish Festival of Lights, Dec. 24- Jan. 1.

     Those who celebrate light candles each day during the eight-day celebration.

     After a small group of Jews defeated the Seleucids near 160 BC, they reclaimed the Holy Temple. The Jewish people who survived the war tried to light the Temple’s menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum, to find they had only enough oil for one night’s worth of light.

     The supply lasted eight. Hanukkah lasts eight days and eight nights because of this.

     Celebrations include eating fried foods, spinning a dreidel and giving gifts and money to children.


     Hindu students may have celebrated Diwali, otherwise known as Deepavali, on Oct. 30 this year. The fall holiday is dependent on the Hindu calendar each year.

     Diwali is a five-day celebration that marks the triumph of good over evil. Those who celebrate the holiday may clean out their homes to represent a new start in life. Hindu students may paint their homes different colors and light clay discs that are placed in all the dark areas of the home light the way for happiness and prosperity.


     During December, Muslim students may celebrate Mawlid al-Nabi, the prophet Muhammad’s birthday, on Dec. 11-12.

     Prayer meetings, marches, parades and communal meals in mosques are part of how the day is celebrated.

     Those who celebrate the holiday also give gifts and donate money to the poor. Historically, animal sacrifices were commonplace to symbolize dedication, respect and gratitude.


     On Dec. 8 each year, Buddhist students may celebrate Bodhi Day. The holiday honors Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as Buddha, who obtained enlightenment beneath a Bodhi Tree.

     The day is for Buddhists to take time to appreciate wisdom, kindness and compassion.

     The lighting of candles or turning on of lights occurs on this day to celebrate and are left lit for 30 days to symbolize enlightenment. Traditional activities include eating milk and rice and gathering in prayer through the night as Buddha did during his enlightenment.


     For Wiccan and Atheist students, Yule or Winter Solstice celebration may be celebrated. The Yule celebration marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. The rebirth of the sun is celebrated during Yule and it ushers in the first day of winter.

     Those that celebrate Yule decorate their homes in green, red and white decorations. These are colors that date back to Druidic traditions. They also spend time visiting with family and friends and sometimes exchange gifts to honor the sun.

     Meditating in the darkness with lit candles or lighting a traditional Yule log is also included.