At Sparrow, we acknowledge the many different expressions of the holiday-filled season. Please take time to learn, explore, and enjoy the abundant array of holidays listed below:
A Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ on Dec. 25. This worldwide celebration is expressed in many different customs and traditions, such as attending worship services and exchanging gifts.
Diwali, an ancient Hindu festival, or festival of lights, is the most important holiday of the year in India and takes place in October or November. It symbolizes the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. People light their homes with clay oil lamps, colorful lights, and children burst firecrackers to welcome Laxmi the Goddess of prosperity and wealth.
The Jewish festival of rededication is also known as Chanukah and the Festival of Lights. It commemorates the miraculous recapture of the Temple of Jerusalem from the Syrian Greeks of the Maccabees in 165 B.C. Another miracle occurred when the Maccabees came to rededicate the temple. To commemorate the miracle, the Menorah is lit for the eight days of Hanukkah.
A Swahili word that means “first” and signifies the first fruits of the harvest. Many people of African descent in America celebrate Kwanzaa from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. Kwanzaa is a time to reflect on the seven basic principles of Umoja, Kujichagalia, UJima, Ujamaa, Nia, Imani, and Kuumba. It is a time to share and enjoy the fruits of our labor and recommit to the collective achievement of a better life for family, community, and people.
Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each New Year for at least 4 millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on Dec. 31, the last day of the Gregorian calendar and continue into the early hours of Jan. 1. Common traditions include attending parties, eating special food, making resolutions and watching fireworks.
Ramadan is observed by more than one billion Muslims around the world. Ramadan is a time for spiritual purification achieved through fasting, self-sacrifice and prayers. Celebrated during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, the fast is observed each day from sunrise to sunset. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five Pillars of Islam. Ramadan concludes with a three-day festival known as "Eid" or "Eid ul-Fitr," which literally means "the feast of the breaking/to break the fast." The festival marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, and is a culmination of the month-long struggle towards a higher spiritual state.
Rosh Hashanah, commonly known as the Jewish New Year, occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, “head of the year” or “first of the year.” One of the most important observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar, or ram’s horn that is blown like a trumpet, in the synagogue. A total of 100 notes are sounded each day. No work is permitted on Rosh Hashanah and much of the day is spent in synagogue. It is a time for introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year.
Semana Santa is a holiday during which most Spanish-speaking countries close down business, schools, and government offices between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, and is considered one of the most important holidays in their culture. Those who have moved away often return to their hometowns as communities come together in celebration and religious processions fill the streets. Most Semana Santa traditions are hundreds of years old and originated in Spain, but many now have a unique twist due to the mix of cultures in each Spanish speaking country.
Also known as Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year, this is an important social and economic holiday in China. It is a time to honor household and heavenly deities, as well as ancestors, and bring together family for feasting.
St. Nicholas Day
The Dec. 6 feast day in honor of the historic fourth-century saint “Nikolaos of Myra.” He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him. St. Nicholas became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch. Saint Nicholas is revered among Catholic and Orthodox Christians. He is also honored by various Anglican and Lutheran churches. Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as “Nikolaos the Wonderworker” and "St. Nikolai, the Miracle Creator.”
A holiday celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November. It has officially been an annual tradition since 1863, when during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be celebrated. The event Americans commonly call the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated to give thanks to God for guiding Pilgrims safely to the New World. The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days, providing enough food for 13 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans.
Jewish Day of Atonement. It is one of the holiest days in the Jewish religious calendar, a day of reflection and repentance when Jewish people atone their sins from the past year. The holiday is marked by a day-long fast, and observant Jews attend synagogue services. Yom Kippur falls on the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishri, ten days after Rosh Hashanah. The two holidays together encompass the period known as the High Holy Days or Days of Awe.
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