By Mary Khon
Hello, Queeridos! Can you believe another year is coming to an end? Time flies, queeridos, time flies!
December is a month full of celebrations all over the world; this has to do with so many different cultural practices and religious beliefs. Here’s a list of some of the celebrations happening around the world during December.
December 1: World AIDS Day, conceived by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter in August 1987. Bunn and Netter were two public information officers for the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organization in Geneve, Switzerland. Why December 1? Bunn, who was a television broadcast journalist from San Francisco, CA saw that this day could gain from media exposure since the USA was just coming from elections and gearing up for Christmas season.
December 5 & 6: Krampusnacht and The Feast of Saint Nicholas, a celebration that takes place in several European regions. On the evening of December 5th, Krampus breaks havoc all over town, visiting families and business, and scaring children. On December 6th, St. Nicholas along with Krampus visit families. St. Nicholas concerns himself with giving gifts to good children while Kamprus offers the bad children coal and bitter roots. To Europeans, St. Nicholas looks like a bishop while for Americans St. Nicholas is Santa Claus, and we all know how he looks like. Krampus, on the other hand, is seeing as a half-goat, half-demon entity by everyone, and in America he is not only scary but also evil. A Hollywood film was recently made about this European character.
December 8: The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a celebration that takes place in many Catholic countries as an observance day to Mary’s Immaculate Conception.
December 12: The Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a Catholic celebration that is observed in Mexico. While not an official holiday, it is a day of observance for the believers and since 2014 it has been declared an official Bank holiday. Millions of Mexican people celebrate their Catholic faith and devotion to “La Virgen” on this day. However, millions more are now noting that the celebration serves as a reminder of colonization and Native Mexican genocide.
December 13-20: Chanukah or Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday commemorating Jewish people’s successful religious freedom rebellion against the Greeks in the Maccabean War in 162 BCE. It is also known as the “Feast or Festival of Lights.” It is said that after the Jewish victory, the people wanted/needed to do a cleansing but they only had enough oil to keep a lamp burning for only one day. Miraculously though, the lamp kept burning for 8 consecutive days, thus Hanukkah lasts 8 days in a row, ending on the eve of December 20th.
December 14-24: Las Posadas, a nine-day Catholic observance festival taking placed mainly in Mexico and in parts of the United States—but only by Mexican immigrants and Mexican American people. It is a celebration commemorating Mary and Joseph’s journey before baby Jesus was born. It’s filled with food, traditional singing, rosaries, and one of Mexico’s most elaborated theatrical recreations known as “pastorelas,” which are morality Bible stories recreated onstage dating back to the Medieval Period and brought to Mexico by the Spaniards as part of colonization and the implementation of Christianity.
December 21: Winter Solstice for the Northern Hemisphere and Summer Solstice for the Southern Hemisphere. While in the Northern Hemisphere it is the shortest day of the year, in the Southern Hemisphere it is the longest day of the year. People living in the south of the Antarctic Circle will witness the sun for 24 hours while people in the north of the Antarctic Circle towards the North Pole will see no direct sunlight during this time of the year. In December 2012, the winter solstice coincided with the end of the “Great Cycle” of the Long Count in the Mayan Calendar; to many it meant the world was going to end.
December 24: Nochebuena, a Christmas Eve celebration that takes place in Spain, Latin America and the Philippines. Meaning “Good Night,” Nochebuena is a family celebration leading to the birth of Jesus. This family tradition dates back to the 1400s and it is, in fact, more important than Christmas. Christmas is in fact, a day for rest and recovery from the long night of partying, drinking, and celebrating.
December 25: Christmas Day—that is all you need to know.
December 26: Boxing Day, a British celebration where, traditionally, employers distributed food, money, and goods to their employees. Today however, it is an important day for sports (traditionally dog fox hunting—now outlaw) and post-Christmas sales.
December 31: New Year’s Eve, not celebrated but the entire world, but celebrated all over the world in countries that followed the Gregorian Calendar. In the Hindu, Chines, Coptic, Jewish, and Islamic calendars, the New Year lands in different dates.
Well, there you have it. Happy Winter Solstice and Happy New Year!