Although different in their creation, execution and cultural significance, the winter holidays collectively celebrate and facilitate peace among us, in ways that are religious, spiritual and secular as we reflect together. This meaningful and inclusive time does not have to end in December. In fact, it is important to bring the spirit of the holiday season with us into the New Year.
Chanukah is an eight-day commemoration in Judaism that marks the rededication of the Temple by the Maccabees after their victory over the Asyrians. The Jews only had enough oil for one night, however, it lasted for eight nights. To celebrate, Jews light candles every night for eight nights in order to remember their ancestors and reflect on how they contributed to modern Judaism and Jewish practice. Although the history of this holiday is specific to those of Jewish heritage, Chanukah emphasizes and celebrates the strength of the human spirit in the most desperate of times, something that most people, in some respects, could relate to. The celebration is peaceful and relatable to all through its emphasis on human triumph and community.
In the Christian religion, Christmas marks the birth of Jesus. The holiday is preceded by the season of advent, which is the period of preparation for Jesus’ birth. Although this holiday has recently grown beyond religious beliefs in its global celebration, Christmas time remains a period of reflection and gratitude for both Christians and non-Christians alike through different traditions. With the period of advent, community and community contribution is celebrated for most of December by the Christian community. The secular celebration of Christmas as well, emphasizes strong attention to the community. The giving of gifts, although materialistic, as Christmas has grown to be a more secular holiday, represents the importance of peace and human harmony. What can be learned about Christmas has given true mindfulness and contemplation, is the importance of peace and harmony among humans.
Thankfulness and peace are among the most prominent themes in winter celebrations, allowing each holiday to be able to relate to all individuals, regardless of religious or spiritual affiliation. It is with this in mind, along with the beliefs in peace and reflection, that should be continued throughout the year.