DECEMBER HOLY DAYS
During the month of December, sacred celebrations are being held among many Interfaith Alliance on Poverty congregations who are members of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist faiths. .
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In 2017, Hannukkah begins at sunset on Tuesday DECEMBER 12 and ends at sundown on Wednesday, DECEMBER 20. It commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greek army, and the subsequent miracle of rededicating the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and restoring its menorah, or lamp. The miracle of Hanukah is that after the battle, only one vial of oil was found with just enough oil to last one day = yet it had lasted through 8 days of battle.
Hanukkah is celebrated in Jewish homes with lighting of candles, reciting prayers, and eating special foods. Some people also sing Hanukkah songs or exchange gifts after lighting the menorah, which is also called a hanukkiah.
“Fear not for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior; which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12
On Friday, DECEMBER 25, 2017, the world’s 2 billion Christians will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, whom Christians believe was sent by God to bring salvation to mankind. Many Orthodox Christians in the U.S. refer to the holiday as the Nativity. Manger scenes are set up in churches and private homes, candles are lit and the story of the “Baby Jesus” is told, the babe born in a stable, beneath a bright star, to Mary and Joseph, surrounded by angels, shepherds, and sheep, to the accompaniment of heavenly choirs. – Christians celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day by attending worship services. Bells ring, choirs sing, families gather around Christmas tree and dinner tables, baskets are given to the poor, and gifts are exchanged
Eid Milad ul-Nabi celebrations commemorate the birth of the prophet, Mohammed, in 570 AD. This year the prophet’s birthday will be celebrated on DECEMBER lst. It is observed on the 12th or 17th day of Rabi' al-awwal Islamic month.
Having lost his parents at a young age, Muhammed was raised by his uncle, who trained him to become a successful merchant. At the age of 40, after an encounter with an angel, Muhammad began hearing messages he understood to be from God. He began preaching these words, which are recorded in the Quran. Eventually, he and his followers numbering around ten thousand. took control of Mecca. When Muhammad died in 632, he had united Arabia into a single Muslim political/religious body, but they soon divided into two religious camps. The Sunni Muslims (about 80% of Islam) understood Muhammed had wished his friend and father-in law to be the first caliph and chose him to replace The Prophet. Since Muhammad’s own sons had pre-deceased him, the Shia Muslims (about 10% of Islam) believed that Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, Ali, should have been selected. Thus, the rivalry began. Although all Muslims agree on the importance of teaching the Quran, the Sunni are typically seen as putting more emphasis on the power of God and his determination of human fate. They are understood to be more inclusive in their definition of what it means to be a Muslim.
To celebrate The Prophet’s birth, Muslims hold open-air celebrations or parades, carrying green banners. Men and boys wear green, while girls wear pink and white. A communal meal is held or birthday cake distributed at the end of the celebrations. Food is often shared with non-Muslims.
On DECEMBER 8th, Buddhists celebrate BODHI DAY, commemorating the day on which Siddhartha Gautama experienced enlightenment. Born in Northern India, Siddhartha left a life of ease within a wealthy family to devote years exploring extreme ascetic practices to better understand suffering. Finally he resolved to sit beneath the Bodhi tree, until truth came to him. The next day, as the morning star rose, Siddhartha experienced the enlightenment he had sought, thereafter becoming known as Buddha, the “Awakened One.” This one defining moment became the central foundation upon which Buddhism has been built for the last 2,500 years.
It is a day on which followers renew their dedication to Buddhism; reaffirm themselves to enlightenment, compassion, and kindness to other living creatures; and understand the relevance of their religion as it applies to the modern world.