Winter Holidays at the YWCA

20 Nov

Last night YWCA staff and members gathered to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season and the decorations in the YWCA lobby, including the Giving Tree and our new “Wishing You Joy and Light” mobile. Below is a list of the Winter Holidays represented on the mobile, which was created by Mimi Shackleford with input from the YWCA staff.

Diwali November 13 – November 17
Diwali is known as the Festival of Lights and is one of the most important Hindu Holidays of the year. It incorporates the lighting of special clay oil lamps which represents the triumph of good over evil and the lighting of firecrackers which chases away evil.

Bodhi Day:   December 8
Bodhi Day celebrates the enlightenment of Siddhartha.  Buddhist traditions agree that as he sat under a Pipul Tree and the morning star rose in the sky in the early morning, Siddhartha found the answers he sought and became Buddha, the Awakened One. Some Buddhist celebrate the day with special tea, cakes and readings.

Hanukah December 8 – December 16
Hanukah is also known as the Festival of Lights, an eight-day Jewish Holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The festival is observed by lighting a nine-branched Menorah, one additional light on each night of the holiday progressing to eight on the final night. During Hanukah, gifts are exchanged and a traditional food is the potato latkes.

Winter Solstice December 21
Winter Solstice is also known as Yule and celebrates the birth of the new Solar year and the beginning of winter. Symbols of the Winter Solstice are the sun and red, green and white candles and holly and mistletoe. Wiccans and Pagans celebrate by decorating with lights, A Yule wreath on the front door and mistletoe inside. This is a festival of inner renewal.

Christmas December 25
Christmas, meaning “Christ’ Mass” is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. The holiday is celebrated with the lighting of Christmas trees, displays of nativity scenes and the exchange of gifts on December 25th. Santa Clause, or Father Christmas, is a special symbol of the holiday. Christmas caroling is another tradition of singing Christmas songs at the doors of friends and neighbors. Many special foods such as Christmas cookies are shared during this season.

Feliz Navidad December 25
Christmas is celebrated differently in different Spanish speaking countries, but a popular song, “Fleiz Navidad” wishes us a Happy Christmas. In Mexico, luminaries are lit to welcome the birth of Christ. Throughout Latin America, “Navidad”, the Nativity, is celebrated with music and special food. The twelve days of Christmas leading up to Epiphany on January 6th is also a period of celebrations and visiting friends in their homes.

Kwanza December 26 – January 1st
Kwanza is a week-long celebration honoring African American heritage and culture. A symbol of Kwanza includes a candle holder called the Kinara. Each of the 7 days of Kwanaza is dedicated to one of the following principles – Unity, Self-determination, Collective work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith. Other symbols include corn, a communal cup and a red, black and green flag.

No specific winter celebration, however these are other traditions that our staff or members observe:

Ethical Society
The Ethical Society affirms the equal worth and right to dignity of every person. They cherish individual differences, cultural diversity and the democratic process. They seek to bring out the potential of each of us to make our homes, workplaces and communities kinder, fairer and more joyful. The symbol of the Ethical Society is a human in a circle.

Baha’i Faith
The Baha’i Faith is an independent world religion with adherents in virtually every country, including people of all nationalities. Baha’is believe the purpose of life is to know and worship God, and carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. Baha’is strive to bring about unity and the oneness of humankind through principles that include the common foundation of all major religions, elimination of all forms of prejudice, and the equality of women and men. The Faith began in Persia (Iran) in 1844, and its World Center and sacred shrines are located in Haifa, Israel. Baha’is annually observe 9 Holy days, and the symbol of the Faith is a 9-pointed star.

“Bis mil la a ra man a ra him” Most Gracious and Kind; please bless my words and deeds: Muslim
The symbol of the Muslim religion is being represented with the crescent moon (Hilal) and star. Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable. The purpose of existence is to serve and love God (Allah). Muslims also believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of primordial faith. Being obedient to God; is the doctrine of the holy text “Koran.” Abraham, Moses, David, Joseph, Mary and Jesus and many others named in the Old Testament are recognized and beloved, held in high regard; considered prophets. Messengers of God = Allah.

Are there other traditions or holidays that we should include? 
Let us know!
Contact YWCA Director of Operations Mary Beth Herman, 254-7206 x 209.

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