Epiphany

Also known as King’s Day or Twelfth Night, Epiphany is a Christian celebration that traditionally brought a close to the Christmas Season. In the western Church, King’s Day commemorates the visit of the Magi, the “Wise-Men” or Kings of the East, to the infant Christ, God’s revelation of the Messiah to the Gentiles (non-Jews.)  In bygone traditions, the “Twelve Days of Christmas” were marked from Christmas Day to Epiphany.

Adoration of the Magi by Mantegna (Public Domain / WIkimedia Commons)

This holiday is not prominent in Canada, but is a significant event in many Catholic areas, including parts of the Europe, Central America and South America.

For more:

Catholic Encyclopedia

It’s Twelfth Night…

Epiphany 2015

Winter Solstice and Yule

source: Wikimedia Commons / CC

Winter begins in the northern hemisphere on this, the shortest day of the year. In traditional pagan cultures, this time of the year represented darkness giving way to light, and death giving way to life. The dark and cold had reached its nadir. Henceforth the days would grow longer and warmer. Hope was restored. Many of the festivals and celebrations that take place at this time of year, from many different cultures, follow this theme.

For more on this and other winter observances and feasts, check out our display: Holidays and Holy Days.

Bodhi Day

BuddhaThe religion known as Buddhism dates back to the 6th or 5th Century BCE, when the Indian Prince Siddhartha Gautama became the “Buddha,” literally, “the Enlightened One.” The followers of the Mahayana branch of Buddhism observes Bodhi Day in celebration of the day that the Buddha sat below the Bodhi Tree and meditated on the meaning of life. Bodhi Day is celebrated mainly by the Buddhists of northern and eastern Asia (in Japan the day is known as Rohatsu) and in countries to which those people have immigrated (such as Canada). For more on Bodhi Day and the life of the Buddha, click here.

St. Nicholas Day

stnickIf people tell you that Santa Claus isn’t real, tell them to think again! Saint Nicholas lived in the 3rd and 4th Centuries AD(CE). He lived in what is now known as Turkey, but what was then a Greek area of the Roman Empire. The legends surrounding his life grew and evolved over the years, eventually leading to our modern picture of Santa.

In much of Europe and in many parts of the world, St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6, or on another date other than Christmas. For more information, check out the St. Nicholas Centre.

Hanukkah

source: Roylindman at en.wikipedia

Jews in Canada and around the world celebrate Hanukkah starting at sundown tonight. The Festival of Lights is a celebration of God’s deliverance and provision. The event began in remembrance of Maccabean revolt in the 2nd Century BCE, when the Hebrews recaptured the Temple in Jerusalem, the spiritual centre of Judaism. Each candle of the Menorah is lit, one per day for the 8 day Festival. Like all Jewish Holy Days, which follow the lunar Hebrew Calendar, Hanukkah can occur anytime from late November to late December according to the Gregorian Calendar. This year Hanukkah will begin at sundown on December 24 and will conclude on the evening of January 1st. For more information on Hanukkah, check out some of the following:

Check out our display: “Holidays & Holy Days”

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year feast and celebration.

The Jewish Calendar is a lunar calendar, therefor the dates of Rosh Hashanah and other Jewish holidays will vary according to the Gregorian Calendar (the standard calendar used in most of the world for politics, business and daily life.)  In 2016 Rosh Hashanah begins at Sundown on October 3 and ends at nightfall of October 4.

Vaisakhi

Sikhs in Canada and around the world today celebrate Vaisakhi.  Sometimes also rendered Baisakhi, it is a holiday that combines several celebrations. For the people of the Punjab and other regions of north-west India, Vaisakhi has long been Harvest Festival and a celebration of the New Year. Since 1699 Vaisakhi has been a central Holy Day for Sikhs, who celebrate the establishment of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh, the last of the “Ten Gurus” of Sikhism.

source:  surreyvaisakhiparade.ca
source: surreyvaisakhiparade.ca

 

For more on Vaisakhi:

Festivus

“I’ve got a lot of problems with you people!”

FestivusPole
Festivus Pole. source: anonymous

With heart warming traditions such as the “Airing of Grievances” and “Feats of Strength,” Festivus is a holiday which owes its popularity to the sitcom “Seinfeld.” Festivus has evolved over the years, and has become a worldwide phenomenon, primarily observed on December 23. For more on this secular anti-celebration, click here

Winter Solstice and Yule

source: Wikimedia Commons / CC

The Winter Solstice occurs a 8:49 PM on December 21st in the Pacific Time Zone.

Winter begins in the northern hemisphere on this, the shortest day of the year. In traditional pagan cultures, this time of the year represented darkness giving way to light, and death giving way to life. The dark and cold had reached its nadir. Henceforth the days would grow longer and warmer. Hope was restored. Many of the festivals and celebrations that take place at this time of year, from many different cultures, follow this theme.

For more on this and other winter observances and feasts, check out our display: Holidays and Holy Days, and check out the following:

 

Bodhi Day

BuddhaThe religion known as Buddhism dates back to the 6th or 5th Century BCE, when the Indian Prince Siddhartha Gautama became the “Buddha,” literally, “the Enlightened One.” The followers of the Mahayana branch of Buddhism observes Bodhi Day in celebration of the day that the Buddha sat below the Bodhi Tree and meditated on the meaning of life. Bodhi Day is celebrated mainly by the Buddhists of northern and eastern Asia (in Japan the day is known as Rohatsu) and in countries to which those people have immigrated (such as Canada). For more on Bodhi Day and the life of the Buddha, click here.