December is a special month in terms of religious
celebrations and observances. Many of the most important days of
the world's main religions occur during this month.
Events during 2001-DEC:
DEC-1: This is World AIDS Day.
AIDS has killed about 15 million people; over 40 million are
infected -- mostly African heterosexuals.
|DEC-2: This is the First Sunday in Advent, a.k.a. Advent
Sunday. Advent is a series of Christian
observances leading up to Christmas. It starts on the Sunday that is nearest
to NOV-30, St. Andrew's Day.
2 The Roman Catholic Church forbids
marriages during Advent. 3|
|DEC-4: The U.S. government has declared this as a National
Day of Reconciliation -- a time when "Members of the two Houses
may gather to humbly seek the blessings of Providence for forgiveness,
reconciliation, unity, and charity for all people of the United States,
thereby assisting the Nation to realize its potential as the champion of
hope, the vindicator of the defenseless, and the guardian of freedom..."|
|DEC-6: In Canada, this is the
National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against
Women. On 1989-DEC-6, a deranged gunman, entered the
École Polytechique de Montréal. His application to
admittance at the
school had been rejected. He blamed feminists for ruining his
life. He shot 27 people: 23 women and 4 men. 14 women died.
All the men survived.|
|DEC-8: This is The feast of the Immaculate Conception,
celebrated by Roman Catholics. The feast is linked to
the date 1854-DEC-8, when Pope Pius IX formally defined the dogma. It is the
belief that the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin circa 20
BCE. Many people believe incorrectly that it refers
to Jesus' conception circa 5 BCE.|
DEC-8: Bodhi Day (a.k.a. Rohatsu) is
when Buddhist celebrate the enlightenment of the Buddha in 596
BCE. Some years, it is
celebrated on the Sunday before DEC-8. 4
|DEC-10: Jews celebrate the first day of the eight day
festival of Hanukkah. (a.k.a. Chanukah, Feast
of Lights, Feast of Dedication.) It recalls the war
fought by the Maccabees in the cause of religious freedom.|
DEC-10: This is Human Rights Day,
DEC-10, the 53rd anniversary of the signing of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights. "The
1000 Lamp Mandala Ceremony" is celebrated around the
world to promote peace in Tibet and elsewhere.
DEC-11: This is the third monthly
anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and
Washington. At 8:46 EST on SEP-11, the first plane crashed
into the World Trade Center. President Bush is asking
communities in the U.S. and countries elsewhere in the world
to hold remembrance events at this time.
DEC-16: The probable date of Id al-Fitr,
(a.k.a. Eid-ul-Fitr) the last day of Ramadan. This is
the holiest period in the
Islamic year. It
recalls the lunar month in which the Qura'n was revealed to
humanity. The end of Ramadan may be offset from this day,
because it is dependent on the sighting of the crescent moon.
DEC-21: The Winter Solstice
happens on this day at 19:21 UT. It is celebrated by followers
Neopagan religions around the world. It is called Yule
by Wiccans, who
consider it one of their four minor Sabbats. Followers of
Shinto observe Tohji-taisai,
the Grand Ceremony of the Winter Solstice. Many Atheists in
the U.S. also celebrate the solstice, which is the shortest
day/longest night of the year.
DEC-25: Celebration of
the nominal birth date of Jesus Christ, by the western
churches which follow the Gregorian calendar. Most theologians
believe that Jesus was born between 4 and 7 BCE, perhaps in
DEC-26: This is the first day of a
week-long celebration of Kwanza (a.k.a. Kwanzaa, Quansa) It
is an African-American and Pan-African holiday celebrating
family, community and culture. "Kwanza"
is a Swahili word for "the first," or "the first
fruits of the harvest".
DEC-26: Boxing Day is celebrated
in Australia, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Canada, New Zealand and
the UK. It is apparently related to an old custom of giving
cash or presents to poor people. However, nobody really knows
for certain why the "Box" got into "Boxing Day." Theories
abound. It is listed in the Canada Labour Code as a
DEC-31: New Year's Eve. A generally
Early in January:
|JAN-1: Last day of Kwanzaa. It is observed in many
religious communities. Seven life virtues are presented. |
Although care was
taken in the preparation of this list, we cannot accept
responsibility for any errors or their consequences.
Helen T. Gray, "Keeping faith during the
holidays," Kansas City Star, 1999-DEC-17. It is a brief
article on how followers of four religions (Christianity,
Islam, Judaism and Wicca) celebrate their faith near the end
of December. Online at:
"Music for the first Sunday of Advent,"
"First Sunday of Advent," at:
"Bodhi Day: Anniversary of Buddha's
Copyright © 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Essay prepared on 2001-NOV-28
Latest update: 2001-DEC-10
Compiled by B.A. Robinson