On nov.16th / nov.17th the Muslims around the world celebrated EID AL ADHA which is one of the two annual celebrations for Muslims. Eid al Adha is in the remembrance and honour of the complete submission of Abraham to God when he was told to sacrifice his son. The Muslims commemorate this by offering a sacrifice of a goat, sheep, etc and sharing the meat with close relatives and the poor. There are three days to this Eid; the first morning Muslims attend the Eid prayers and then is followed by visiting family and friends wishing them “Eid Mubarak” as well as a prayer – “May God accept it from me and from you.”
On Dec.1st the Jews lighted the first candle on the menorah commencing the beginning of the eight daylong celebration of HANUKKAH. This celebration is in commemoration of the “miracle of the container of oil” in the temple of Jerusalem. The oil left in the container was only enough to fuel the eternal flame for one day, but as a miracle from God it lasted eight days which was long enough for the Jews to make more oil for the particular oil they used for the eternal flame took eight days to make. To honour this miracle the Jews light one candle on the first day, two on the second and so on. They sing hymns, give presents to kids and the infamous game of dreidel … ‘dreidel dreidel dreidel, I made It out of clay … ‘
On the night of Dec. 24th the Christians prepare for the big CHRISTMAS day coming. Families and relatives come over to visit and a mass is held at the church at night in which the story of the birth of Jesus is told. A glass of milk and a plate of cookies are left on a table next to the tree for Santa. The next morning the presents are opened from under the tree and the rest of the day is spent visiting family and relatives. The Christmas tree symbolizes the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. The celebration of Christmas is in commemoration of Jesus’s birth. After dec.25th some celebrate the Christmastide, a twelve day celebration lasting up till Jan.6th.
On Dec.26th the seven day celebration of the African Americans called KWANZAA begins. The kinara has seven candles and the people gather for candle lighting each day. There are three colours of candles; black for the people, red for the struggle, and green for the future. Each of the seven days are dedicated to a particular characteristic; unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, co-operative economics, purpose, creativity and lastly faith. Kwanzaa was founded in 1966 to “give blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society” – as said by Maulana Karenga who created this holiday.
*note: the dates of the celebrations of Diwali, Eid, and Hanukkah change every year because they are based on a different calendar than the Gregorian calendar. Following the Lunar Calendar, Eid is celebrated on the 10th of the month of Dhul Hajj of the Lunar Calendar which is the month in which millions of Muslims mark the journey of Mecca to perform the pilgrimage. Due to the difference between the two calendars, Eid is moved 10 or so days back each year. When I first came to Canada Eid was the month of Ramadan came during the holiday season, and now it comes in the summer. Hanukkah is celebrated on the 25th of Kislev based on the LuniSolar calendar. Hindus follow a similar calendar in which they change the months to balance out the difference between the lunar and the solar calendars by adding a month every couple of years or so.