Posted by: Burlington Public Library (WA) | December 26, 2012

Holidays Across Cultures

dec holidays

Well, we’ve spent this month visiting different cultures and taking a (brief) look at a few December holidays.

I’m struck by the fact that as usual, all these cultures have a lot more in common than in difference.  People need light; people know that life comes from the sun.  And since the start of recorded history, people have created rituals in the darkest, coldest part of the year to celebrate light in all its forms: fire, warmth, fun, faith, ethics, surprises, bearing the light for one another.

All over the globe, people celebrate with all their senses.  We decorate the house, wear special clothes, and surround ourselves with color.  We light candles and Yule logs, torches and fireworks.  We cook special foods and sing special songs.  We get together for meals and parades, caroling and re-enacting faith stories.  We party. We give each other presents.

December holidays also mark time and encourage good relationships.  Nearly all of them include a sense of year-end reflection, forgiving grudges, and making peace to begin a new year with hope, resolve, and resolutions.  They serve as a time to remember and care for the less fortunate, and to focus on positive values.  We teach our children about sharing, caring, personal values, and religious faith.  And they all seem to break time, too: to create time outside normal, everyday life.

So that’s what I learned this month. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride, both here on Library Hubbub and in your own life and homes.  What’s been good for you this year?  What’s been challenging about the holiday season?  Share with us in the comments.

—Mary Beth

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