December is about more than just celebrating Christmas. Christianity might be the world’s most popular religion, but our diverse planet has several religions for which December is a month of great importance. For that reason, December can not only serve as a celebration of the birth of Christ (and getting a ton of presents), it can also serve as a means of educating yourself and expanding your worldview. Earth is filled with a ton of incredibly profound and colorful traditions, that are each valuable contributions to the whole multi-cultural tapestry of humanity.
1. Shab-e Yalda Is a Means For Iranians to Gather and Rejoice in Each Other’s Company
Known as Shab-e Yalda, the Iranian festival celebrates the longest night of the year (aka, the winter solstice), which puts it typically in the December 20-21 range. Originally, the longest night of the year was seen as an ominous time, so the occasion was marked with communion in order to stave off concerns of lurking evil. These days, Iranians take the opportunity to gather with friends and family and enjoy one another’s company while reading poetry.
2. Hanukkah Has Been Celebrated By Jewish People for More Than 2,000 Years
This roving holiday marks the re-dedication of Jerusalem’s Holy Temple in the second century BCE, and is not exclusively held in December, as it can potentially fall anywhere in late November until the end of the year. Across the world, Jewish people mark the eight-day holiday by lighting an additional candle on a menorah each night, and passing out small gifts among themselves. Unlike Christmas, Hanukkah is actually not considered the most important holiday on the Jewish calendar. That honor would fall to Passover.