Posted by: Burlington Public Library (WA) | December 5, 2012

Holidays Across Cultures

dec holidays


In our ongoing celebration of holiday diversity, today we visit Islam and Christianity.

December 5 is Ashura, a day celebrated in different ways by different types of Muslims in different areas of the world.  It commemorates the death of Hussein, Muhammad’s grandson.

It’s an important day for all Muslims, but  for Shi’as, it marks a sad martyrdom, while Sunni Muslims view it as a victory God has given to Moses.  Either way, it includes fasting, feasting, and feeding others.   Because it commemorates a violent death, there’s lots of fake blood involved, which can look a bit strange to Western eyes.  Perhaps Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny look pretty odd to them, too.






St. Nicolas Day is tomorrow, December 6.  St. Nicolas was a bishop in Turkey in the fourth century.  Not much is known about him, yet he somehow became a figure associated with gift-giving and goodness, and eventually morphed into the American archetype of Santa Claus.

In much of Europe, St. Nicolas’ Day is the gift exchange day.  Children leave shoes outside and wake to find them filled with small gifts to share, honoring Nicolas’ generosity (or coals and switches, honoring parental desperation for good behavior).

Relevant books

@ your library logo

Islam for dummies

What everyone needs to know about Islam

Nicholas : the epic journey from saint to Santa Claus

Saint Nicholas : the real story of the Christmas legend




  1. i so want to slit that knife into that mans face bring on the war mate omg

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