It's the most wonderful time of the year. At least it is for me! From November to January, I’m in an extremely happy mood and enjoy spending time with family and friends. Since I was a child I have always loved Thanksgiving because of all the food. Who knew back then, I was a foodie at heart. I learned early on the meaning of giving thanks, being grateful for all that you have, and why my household celebrated Thanksgiving. Christmas was my second favorite holiday. As kids, my brother and I were allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve. Growing up going to catholic school, I learned early on that Christmas was not about Santa Claus, the north pole, and toys as I once thought.
Fast forward to celebrating the holidays as a working HR professional pre-covid. I would cringe at the thought of an office party around the holidays. One, I’m an introvert and small talk drains my energy. Two, let’s face it, employees think we (HR) are the “work police”. As I progressed in my career, celebrating holidays at work became hard. All of a sudden, I didn’t know what to say to my colleagues. If I said “Happy Holidays,” am I declaring war on Christmas? If I said “Merry Christmas,” am I disrespecting my Muslim colleagues? Do we call the party a Christmas party, holiday party, or office party? I learned the safe bet is to call it a seasonal celebration and mention the various holidays celebrated during the season. In the diverse world that we live in, I didn’t want to leave anyone out.
As we gather this season, I wanted to bring awareness to the various holidays that are celebrated. The following is a shortlist of holidays from November through January.
November 25: Thanksgiving Day in the United States. It began as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest of the preceding year.
November 27 - December 24: Advent, a Christian season of celebration leading up to the birth of Christ.
November 28 - December 6: Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greek army, and the subsequent miracle of rededicating the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and restoring its menorah, or lamp.
November 28 - January 6: Nativity Fast, a period of abstinence and penance practiced by the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches in preparation for the Nativity of Jesus.
December 8: Bodhi Day, the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni), experienced enlightenment.
December 12: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a religious holiday in Mexico commemorating the appearance of the Virgin Mary near Mexico City in 1531.
December 16 - 24: Las Posadas, a nine-day celebration in Mexico commemorating the trials Mary and Joseph endured during their journey to Bethlehem.
December 21: Yule Winter Solstice, celebrated by Pagans and Wiccans represents a celebration focusing on rebirth, renewal, and new beginnings.
December 25: Christmas Day, the day that many Christians associate with the birth of Jesus.
December 26: Boxing Day, a secular holiday celebrated in the U.K., Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Africa.
December 26 - January 1: Kwanzaa, an African-American holiday started by Maulana Karenga in 1966 to celebrate universal African-American heritage.
December 26: Feast of the Holy Family, a liturgical celebration in the Catholic Church in honor of Jesus, his mother, and his foster father, St. Joseph as a family. The primary purpose of this feast is to present the Holy Family as a model for Christian families.
December 28: Feast of the Holy Innocents, a Christian feast in remembrance of the massacre of young children in Bethlehem by King Herod the Great in his attempt to kill the infant, Jesus.
December 31: New Year’s Eve/Watch Night, a day for Christians to review the year that has passed, make confessions, and then prepare for the year ahead by praying and resolving.
January 1: New Year’s Day, the first day of the year according to the modern Gregorian calendar, is celebrated in most Western countries.
January 1: Feast Day of St. Basil, a holiday observed by the Eastern Orthodox Church, commemorating the death of Saint Basil the Great.
January 6: Epiphany or Dia de Los Reyes (Three Kings Day), a holiday observed by Eastern and Western Christians that recognizes the visit of the three wise men to the baby Jesus twelve days after his birth.
January 6: Christmas, recognized on this day by Armenian Orthodox Christians, who celebrate the birth of Jesus on Epiphany
January 7: Christmas, recognized on this day by Eastern Orthodox Christians, who celebrate Christmas thirteen days later than other Christian churches.
I hope that you find this helpful as you celebrate this season. Keep in mind, we should not assume everyone celebrates the same. Nor should we assume that everyone celebrates holidays at all. As for me, tis the season to be jolly, and I will rejoice and be glad in it. With all that has happened with the pandemic, I am looking forward to food, desserts, more desserts, singing my favorite Christmas carols, and making memories with family and friends. Regardless, if you celebrate or not, I wish you all peace, love, happiness, and many blessings as we go into the new year.