Events of the Month
Events during 2003-December:
December is a month of significance to many of the world's religions.
Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and many aboriginal religions celebrate holy
days during this month. 1
DEC-1: This is World AIDS Day.
AIDS has killed about 15 million people; over 45 million are
infected -- mostly African heterosexuals. The total number of
women infected is now very close to the total for men in
sub-Saharan Africa. Tens of millions of children are becoming
||DEC-2: This is the
First Sunday in Advent in the West, 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. 3The Roman Catholic Church forbids
marriages during Advent. Some Roman Catholics refrain from
eating meat on Wednesday and Fridays during Advent.
National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against
Women is held annually in Canada on this date.
On 1989-DEC-6, a deranged male 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. 5
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 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 Buddhists of the Pure Land tradition recall the enlightenment of the Buddha in 596
BCE. Some years, it is
celebrated the Sunday immediately preceding
on DEC-8. 6
DEC-10: This is Human Rights Day,
the 55th anniversary of the signing of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights on
1948-DEC-10 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. The document
outlines the minimum human rights standards that should be
available in all countries of the world. They include "the
right to life, liberty and nationality, to freedom of thought,
conscience and religion, to work, to be educated, [and] to
take part in government." The
"1000 Lamp Mandala Ceremony" is celebrated around the
world to promote peace in Tibet and elsewhere.
||DEC-20: Jews observe the first day of Hanukkah, the
Festival of Lights. One candle of an eight-candle menorah is lit
The observance begins at sundown on DEC-19. It recalls the war
fought by the Maccabees in the cause of religious freedom.
||DEC-22: This is the Winter
Solstice -- the day with the longest nighttime and shortest daytime
of the year. It ocurrs at 7:03 UT or 2:03 EST. Many faith groups and secular groups celebrate on or near
this day: Atheists, Druids,
Native Americans, and various Aboriginal groups
Wiccans and other Neopagans often refer to
this day as "Yule"; it is 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 on the solstices.
DEC-25: This is when
the nominal birth date of Jesus Christ, is celebrated 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 inter-faith 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". It continues until JAN-1.
DEC-26: The death of the prophet
Zarathustra is observed by Zoroastrians.
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
Although care was taken in the
preparation of this list, we cannot accept responsibility for any errors or
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:
"World AIDS Day," at:
"Music for the first Sunday of Advent,"
"First Sunday of Advent," at:
"National day of remembrance and action on violence against women,"
"Bodhi Day: Anniversary of Buddha's
Copyright © 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Essay prepared on 2003-NOV-27
Latest update: 2002-NOV-27
Compiled by B.A. Robinson