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Religious Tolerance logo

Events during


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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. 

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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.

bulletDEC-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
bulletDEC-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..."
bulletDEC-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 cole Polytechique de Montral. 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.
bulletDEC-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

bulletDEC-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 United Nations 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 of many Aboriginal and 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 Christmas, 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 the fall.


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 holiday.


DEC-31: New Year's Eve. A generally secular celebration.

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Early in January:

bulletJAN-1: Last day of Kwanzaa. It is observed in many religious communities. Seven life virtues are presented.

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Although care was taken in the preparation of this list, we cannot accept responsibility for any errors or their consequences.

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  1. 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: http://www.kcstar.com/item/pages/fyi.pat,fyi/37741687.c17,.html 

  2. "Music for the first Sunday of Advent," at: http://www.jwpepper.com/advent1.html 

  3. "First Sunday of Advent," at: http://www3.kumc.edu/diversity/ethnic_relig/advent.html 

  4. "Bodhi Day: Anniversary of Buddha's Enlightenment" at: 

Copyright 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Essay prepared on 2001-NOV-28
Latest update: 2001-DEC-10
Compiled by B.A. Robinson

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