December a joyful time for many

December is for many people a month of celebrations.

Jews celebrate Hanukkah, Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day, many African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa, and cultures across the world celebrate the Winter Solstice.

Many people have put their hope in finding a majestical end state. For Buddhists the final Enlightenment remains the ultimate ideal, to be attained by ridding oneself of false beliefs and the hindrance of passions. For real Christians it is also important to get rid of all false teachings and to come to the purity of God’s life lessons. Though in those days of darkness there are those who want to shed false light on the Truth. They claim that God would have been born, though God is an eternal Spirit Being, having no flesh nor bones and having no birth nor death.

December, with its darkness, brings moments of reflection, thinking about life and death, family and making something of the days here on earth. Somehow, people want to let light enter in their life and want to see knowledge and prosperity to grow.

Buddha Enlightenment Mudra
Buddha Enlightenment Mudra – Bodhi Day is observed in many mainstream Mahayana traditions including the traditional Zen and Pure Land schools of China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.

For the feasts this year it started on Dec. 8 when Buddhists the world over celebrated Bodhi Day, the day when Siddhartha Gautama, on seeing the morning star at dawn, attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree and became the Buddha, the “Awakened One.” Buddha’s enlightenment has for 2,500 years been the central article of faith for Buddhists of every school, sect and nationality, as well as being the unifying principle of all Buddhist teaching. For Buddhists everywhere, Bodhi Day is an opportunity to acknowledge their dedication to the principles of wisdom, compassion and kindness — the distinguishing features of the Buddhist worldview. In a similar way are Hanukkah and Christmas for many the days where kindness to others is shown, by inviting people to the table and to share food and presents.

For most of the 20th century, there was no recognition of a December dilemma. Schools routinely marked the coming of Christmas with religious pageants, nativity scenes, and organised prayer. In many industrial countries, like in the United States of America, students of different faiths or no faith, were marginalised and excluded. Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down school prayer in the 1960s, schools have abandoned such religious rituals, and many have struggled to develop more inclusive holiday programs.

In Belgium we see that most schools talk about Christmas as a Christian holy day, but also making other faith groups parts of those heathen celebrations of the Trinitarian Christians who celebrate 25 December as the birth of their god. Nobody seems to consider that Jesus Christ was born in October and that Santa Claus or Father Christmas has nothing to do with the Nazarene preacher who was born in Bethlehem, where there are no fir trees or Christmas trees. When you walk in the streets of Belgium you may see decorated Christmas trees with Christmas presents, in houses where Muslims live and where you can see them also having a Christmas meal.

In the second half of the previous century Christmas became so much secularised and marginalised in pursuit of multiculturalism that it can be found in all sorts of cultures in Belgium and Holland.

Buddhism is enjoying something of a renaissance at a time when a troubled planet needs kindness and compassion more than ever, and Buddhists seem to have it much easier not to partake in the commercialisation of those December festivals.

Teachers in our schools should learn to give more attention to the variety of religions and their celebrations. One way to solve the December dilemma is to focus less on December and more on the many holidays that take place throughout the year. For instance, Rosh Hashanah and Passover — two of the highest holidays in Judaism, Jeshuaism and Pesach or Passover also the most important day of the year for the real Christians or Non-Trinitarian Christians (a group much too often forgotten by the media and schools) — are seldom discussed while greater attention is given to Hanukkah because it usually falls in December. Certainly in Catholic and Protestant schools they should give more attention to the day that Jesus came together with his disciples to remember the liberation of God’s People and how he on that night of gathering with his disciples installed the New Covenant on 14 Nisan.

At the same time teachers should give those kids who have other holy days the feeling they are also recognised. The Jews and Jeshuaists should not cower. It is totally wrong to be silent about other religions. Such silence makes youngsters not know, but also allows too many false sayings about those religions to enter the main thought or political thought. Keeping Judaism quiet has never healed anti-Semitism and never built their next generation. It is part of our education that we also should people from other faiths feel welcome and have reason to stand straight in their faith. Teachers have to give Jews and Jeshuaists reason to stand proud of their rich heritage and people.

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which occurs at varying times of the year, also tends to be overlooked when it doesn’t fall in December. Also concerning the falling of the New Year schools could teach the children the different calendars with a different New Years day for Jews and Muslims. They also could explain why the Hijri calendar was established and what it means, explaining ‘The Hijra to Medina’ or the flight from Mecca to Medina in 622 was a turning point in Islamic history, marking the beginning of the Muslim state, and where the Arab Prophet Muhammad established the first civil Muslim society.

Learning more about these and other special and/or holidays deepens students’ understanding of their classmates, their community, and the world.

Harvard’s Pluralism Project offers a comprehensive multi-faith calendar, which can be used with Tanenbaum’s holiday planning template, to create a yearlong schedule of holidays to explore in the classroom. Teachers can connect these diverse celebrations through a thematic framework of values common to different religious and secular traditions — such as peace, caring, thankfulness, forgiveness, and renewal. For more ideas, see Tanenbaum’s Shared Visions.

For an elementary lesson that introduces a variety of winter holidays related to light, download Tanenbaum’s Rituals and Traditions about Light: Hopefulness and Waiting.

This month we come to the close of 2021. Last year we would not have thought the new year would present us again similar 2020 situations showing us how hard it was – with overflowing hospitals, with nurses and doctors exhausted, with empty streets, and with families missing family gatherings, birthdays, anniversaries graduations, bar and bat mitzvahs.

All religious groups had the difficulty that they could not come together to share their religious activities and worship. It is a pity the public television channels had previously stopped screening religious services, but luckily in this corona period, they started to send out Catholic and Protestant services. For Muslims and Jews there did not yet seem to be place. We can only hope there would come again some openness to give those religious groups also some screening time on the public broadcasting.

It is up to our education system to open the path of religious and cultural openess, showing to the kids that all people have common factors and that the differences in their culture should not be something to make us afraid, but should give us opportunities to enrich our society.

At the same time the teachers should learn those kids that it is not the material gain that is enriching us, but that spiritual matters are much more important than all those material gadgets and presents people think they have to give to show their love for someone. That way there also should be no “holiday stress” having people running in panic from one shop to another to find the right present.

In any case this period of holidays can be a challenging moment for the teachers. They can use these holidays as an opportunity to dig deeper. Go beyond how, when, and where people celebrate to why they celebrate and the many different ways they celebrate, even within the same tradition. They also should avoid monolithic representations of groups by exposing students to the lived experiences of real people, allowing them to read personal narratives, interact with guest speakers, and interview community members. By exploring the diversity within diversity, students gain a deeper knowledge of culture, history, geography, literature, art, music, and more. Just as important, they begin to see religious and cultural differences as normal and interesting.

Lessons that allow students to explore and share aspects of their identities — including their religious and cultural traditions — help them become cognisant of, and interested in, the similarities and differences that exist all around them.As they learn more about themselves, they become better prepared to learn about others. {Education Week}

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Find to read: Teaching the Holidays: The December Dilemma, By Kimberly Keiserman

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Preceding

  1. Hanukkah Feast of light
  2. Sancta Claus is not God

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Additional reading

  1. From ancient Greece to ancient Judea: The Hellenization of Jewish culture
  2. Not true or True Catholicism and True Islam
  3. Religious Practices around the world
  4. End of Summertime and the Time of introspection.
  5. Eykhah – How can it be?
  6. Back to back or Face to face
  7. Thinking ahead before Rosh Hashanah
  8. Our Responsibility in corona-times #1 Collective religious worship
  9. Our Responsibility in corona-times #2 Opportunities for spirituality and reflection
  10. In times of flooding and other miseries
  11. A particular night to share unleavened bread and red wine
    Inauguration of the New Covenant
  12. Fellowship over meals
  13. Coming together for a meal to remember a special lamb
  14. When Belonging to the escaped ones gathering in Jesus name
  15. Rosh Hashana 2021 / רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה 5782
  16. 13) Kuntres Rosh Hashono, 5752
  17. Thanksgivukkah and Advent
  18. Hanukkahgiving or Thanksgivvukah
  19. A Meaningful Thanksgivukkah (Bijbelvorser)
  20. A Meaningful Thanksgivukkah (Steppingtoes)
  21. Not Anti-Black, Anti-Africa – A Guide to the Anti-Semitism/Anti-Zionism Debate
  22. Tekufat Tevet – Darkness, gold moon and Light to look forward
  23. Dark times looking like death is around the corner – but Light given to us
  24. A beginning by the 2016 Chanukah celebrations
  25. Days of Chanukah- Days of Faith
  26. Hanukkah Feast of light
  27. the first Night of Hanukkah
  28. Lighting Chanukah Candles With Electric Bulbs
  29. 2020 Hanukkah gathering to be in isolation
  30. Irminsul, dies natalis solis invicti, birthday of light, Christmas and Saturnalia
  31. 8 Reasons Christian Holidays Should Not Be Observed
  32. Coming together in dark days
  33. Beginning of a festival of lights
  34. Seeing the glass half-empty or half-full
  35. From the Ramadan into the eid
  36. “Muslims Are Terrorists!”
  37. The imaginational war against Christmas

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Related

  1. The Buddha’s Vacation: Understanding the Buddhist Holidays and Ceremonies
  2. Bodhi Day 2020 Reflections
  3. Kintsugi – 10 Days Until the Lunar Bodhi Day
  4. Is This All There Is?
  5. Bodhi Day: Finding Your Bodhi Tree
  6. Kuzushi – A Pre-Bodhi Season 2021 Message
  7. December 2021 Holiday Season – Ahimsa (Non-Harming): Day 1 – Rohatsu / Bodhi Day
  8. High-Hanging Fruit
  9. The Buddha’s Enlightenment Day
  10. Hanamoku Family’s Christmas Cookies of 2021
  11. Menachem Mendel Bluming Muses: Visual Aid for How to be a Jew
  12. Individual Application of The Feast of Trumpets
  13. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur 
  14. Rosh Hashanah 5782: Why This Matters
  15. Rosh HaShanah 5782/September 8, 2021
  16. Catchup Post: Rosh Hashanah Resolutions
  17. Davening in the Dining Room (5782)
  18. Rosh Hashanah 34a: Why the Chofetz Chaim Quoted Reb Meir Simcha
  19. Holiday Traditions – Chanukah
  20. Chanukah/Hanukkah/Chanukkah?
  21. Our Style: Happy Chanukah!
  22. Chanukah (Hanukkah) / Christmas – Facts or Fabels?
  23. A #Jewish #Buddhist for the #Christmas/ #Chanukah/ #Solstice/#Kwanzaa Season
  24. Wondering Through My Own Christmas Grotto
  25. Spinning Toward Christmas
  26. 10 Ways to Thank Your Favorite Indie Author at Christmas or Any Time
  27. It’s a relief to know I’m adopted
  28. The Marketing Of Catholicism
  29. Christmas Time
  30. #Christmas: Good Tidings for ALL People

  31. Falling Back To The Wall – In Length And Wordiness
  32. Yahweh’s Truth Behind The Pagan Holiday Christmas
  33. Inclusive? You betcha!
  34. Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?
  35. Should we Celebrate Christmas?
  36. The war on Christmas trees
  37. The “holidays”
  38. Winter Solstice
  39. The Light of the World
  40. The Belen – The Christmas Symbol That Celebrates The Reason For The Season
  41. ‘Blue Blue Blue Christmas’ – Navigating this holiday season for all ages with life coach Stephanie O’Dea and clinical psychologist Dr. John Duffy
  42. Fun Christmas Bible Trivia Game – Test Your Knowledge or with a Group
  43. Truly Happy: Rudolph, Augustine, and Our Misfit Hearts
  44. What Christmas means to me!
  45. Consolation and Redemption
  46. Green Christmas
  47. God’s Christmas Joy
  48. Celebrate The Joy
  49. 12 Cars Of Christmas: The Tree Transporter
  50. 5782 – House of Creation
  51. I Ain’t no Challah Bread Girl (but my sister is)
  52. 2 Paths
  53. God’s Festivals Reveal His Plan of Salvation
  54. Moses Institutes the Passover, Exodus 11:1-12:36
  55. Blog : Passover on the Hebrew Date Nissan 15
  56. The Lord’s Supper
  57. The original context of the Lord’s Supper
  58. Passover essay. By Lesley Simpson
  59. A Closer Look: The Passover. (Exodus 12)
  60. A Lamb Without Blemish
  61. Which Way?
  62. No Room in the Inn?
  63. Being nice – to others and yourself
  64. Riwaya Community – November ’21
  65. The Three Elements of al-Islam
  66. Christmas, hospitality and Muslims
  67. All You Need To Know About The Islamic Hijri New Year
  68. Mental Health and Islam
  69. Muslim x Riwaya
  70. Ramadan’s Journal 1442 H
  71. The Heightened Danger between Ramadan 17th & 20th :  Badr is Bad News for Infidels !
  72. Riwaya – 2021 In review
  73. Routine, Productivity and the Prophetic Example
  74. The Best Islamic Children Toys on The Market
  75. Unique Hostess Gifts You’ll Love To Give
  76. A spending problem….
  77. Wrapped and Unwrapped Gifts
  78. Appreciate the Present

Published by Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".

2 thoughts on “December a joyful time for many

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