Posted by: Burlington Public Library (WA) | December 21, 2012

Holidays Across Cultures

dec holidays

December 21-25 is celebrated in India with the festival of Pancha Ganapati, honoring Lord Ganesha.  Like so many other December holidays, Pancha Ganapati reflects on forgiving the rifts of the old year and wishes for the best in the new year beginning.  Each day focuses on a different face, or virtue, of this five-faced god.  A shrine is built in each home, and each day the children prepare offerings of candy, fruit, and incense.  Special songs are sung, and the altar is decorated with a different color for each day.  There are picnics, feasts, and gift-giving.  Here’s a Pancha Ganapati greeting card:

And today is Winter Solstice: the shortest day of the year, when the sun is the furthest from the equator.  It marks the beginning of winter (ha!) and, paradoxically, celebrates the return of the sun, because every day thereafter is a tiny bit longer, that much closer to spring.  Many people think that Winter Solstice was the first December holiday, and all later religions co-opted it for their own purposes.

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The encyclopedia of Native American religions

Mother Earth spirituality : native American paths to healing ourselves and our world

Five voices, five faiths : an interfaith primer

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