Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and the Importance of Belonging: Celebrating Diversity in December
December is the month in which many celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ. There are several other holidays celebrated in December outside of Christmas. This month we would like to highlight just a few of those holidays and share with you their origin. You may already be familiar with these holidays and enjoy celebrating them with family and friends.
Hanukkah – November 28 through December 6
Hanukkah, which is Hebrew for “dedication,” is the Festival of Lights. It commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greek army and the subsequent miracle of rededicating the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and restoring its menorah, or lamp. The core ritual of the eight-day Hanukkah holiday is the lighting of the menorah, or hanukkiah. This nine-stemmed menorah is lit each evening of the holiday after sunset, with one candle added each additional night. It is customary to place the menorah in a window or some other publicly visible location to fulfill the custom of publicizing the miracle, in which a jar of oil sufficient to burn for one night burned for eight in the ancient Temple. Prior to lighting the candles each night, a series of blessings are recited.
Bodhi Day – December 8
Bodhi Day is the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni), experienced enlightenment. Traditions vary on what happened. Some say Siddhartha made a great vow to Nirvana and Earth to find the root of suffering, or die trying. Other traditions simply state that he entered deeper and deeper states of meditation, confronting the nature of the self. Bodhi Day is celebrated in a calm, quiet and peaceful manner. Many Buddhists will spend the day meditating and praying with a focus on the Four Noble Truths. These truths are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering.
At home, Buddhists might decorate a Bodhi tree with lights and statues of Buddha may be displayed around the house.
Kwanza – December 26 through January 1
Kwanza is an African American and pan-African (relating to all people of African birth or descent) holiday that celebrates family, community and culture. This holiday was created in 1966, by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor of African Studies. Kwanza is a seven-day cultural festival. During this holiday families and communities organize activities around the Seven Principles; which are: Umoja – Unity, Kukichagulia – Self Determination, Ujima – Collective work and responsibility, Ujamaa – Cooperative economics, Nia – Purpose, Kuumba – Creativity and Imani – Faith. The seven candles of Kwanzaa in red, black and green, represent the seven Principles.
The one black candle symbolizes the people themselves, the three red candles represent the struggle or blood-shed in the past and the three green candles represent the Earth or the abundance of possibilities the future holds.
As families celebrate the many holidays of December, the hope is that your time together is spent listening to each other, celebrating the different perspectives you each have, your collective hopes and dreams for the future, the love you have for each other and the strength that diversity brings to your family, your community and to our world. The remembrance that we are all so much more alike than we are different. Happy Holidays!
About Presbyterian Senior Living
Presbyterian Senior Living is a not-for-profit organization, fulfilling its charitable purpose and mission by providing high quality retirement choices, healthcare services and affordable residential living options for people 55 and older for more than 85 years. Headquartered in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Senior Living provides services to approximately 6,000 seniors in 30 locations in the mid-Atlantic region of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and Delaware.
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