10 Celebrations During the Third Week of December

Continuing my exploration of the holidays and celebrations in December here are ten celebrations held during the third week of December.   December 17 Saturnalia An ancient Roman winter solstice festival in honor of the deity Saturn. Festivities continue until the 23rd of December. Historically this festival was celebrated with sacrifices, a public banquet, private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival. Most of us only remember the continual partying part. *grin* Learn more here or here. December 21 Winter Solstice Also called the Midwinter Yule, the Winter Solstice takes place in the northern hemisphere on December 21st. This is an astronomical event that produces the day with the shortest daylight hours and the longest night in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, this is the day with the longest daylight hours and shortest night. The northern hemisphere Midwinter Yule is known by many different names and many different peoples celebrate the return of the sun. Feast of Juul The Feast of Juul was a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia at the time of the December solstice. Fires were lit to symbolize the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning sun. A Yule or Juul log was brought in and […]

5 December Celebrations

Continuing my exploration of the holidays and celebrations in December let’s look at 5 December celebrations held during the second week of the month. December 10th Human Rights Day: In 1950 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution inviting all states and interested organizations to observe Human Rights Day on December 10th each year. This year’s theme is dedicated to launching a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The two Covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights. Read more about this at the United Nations’ website.  image thanks to Geralt at pixabay.com December 12th Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day: Celebrations often begin several days before the 12th. The celebrations include processions, Aztec religious dances, singing, food, and prayer. Bright reds, greens, and are the colors for this feast day. The events and the day honor the mother of Jesus, also called the Virgin Mary. In the 16th Century, Saint Juan Diego saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary who told him to build a church on the site […]

Celebrating and Remembering: 5 December Holidays

December is a month of celebrating and remembering, a month of symbols. Christmas stars and trees, festival food, coal and golden switches, saints’ days, ceremonial candles, long nights, remembrance, and gift giving. Let’s explore some of the holidays (past and present) celebrated each week during this wintery month. We’ll start at the beginning: the first day of December. Note: I’m extending the week to include the first few days. December 1st World Aids Day (image courtesy of Jayel Aheram and Flickr)  I’m sure most of you have heard of Aids. Many of you have had friends or family affected by Aids. It’s important to remember this disease is not yet conquered. Let us re-dedicate ourselves to its eradication and to remembering all those stricken by this devastating illness. December 5th Krampusnacht   (public domain image) Did you know that in Alpine countries, Saint Nicholas has a devilish companion named Krampus? Krampus carries chunks of coal and bundles of birch branches (called ruten). He visits each town rattling his chains and punishing bad children. HIs visits come the night before the Feast of Saint Nicholas. Some households keep a bundle of branches in a vase all year long to remind the children […]