As the days wind down and Christmas creeps ever closer - Jane wishes all a very merry holiday. Understanding the various holidays, in addition to the Christian celebration, is an important part of being female-friendly. After all, women are the caretakers of the holiday season...all year long. For this week's Fit by Five, let's have a short lesson in holiday celebration.
1. Hanukkah: Commemorates the re-dedication of the Temple at Jerusalem. Hanukkah was first celebrated over 2,000 years ago after the Jews, under the leadership of Judah the Maccabee (the Hammer), recaptured the Temple from the Syrians. Because the Syrians had occupied and defiled the Temple, it had to be ritually cleansed. The Jews needed to find oil for the sacred lamp - according to legend, they found only one jug of oil, enough for the lamp to burn just ONE night. Amazingly, it burned in the lamp for EIGHT days and nights. These eight days and nights became the Hanukkah festival, which Jewish people have celebrated ever since, in many lands and under many different circumstances.
2. Christmas: In the western world, the birthday of Jesus Christ has been celebrated on December 25th since AD 354, partly to replace the pagan worship that was commonplace in those days. Today, the holiday is a wonderful catalyst for enjoying the precious and simple pleasures of being, if only for a brief time, close together in the warm familiarity of friends and family, renewing relationships and sharing memories, in honor of Jesus's birth and his teachings.
3. Kwanzaa: This is a non-religious celebration which originated in Africa in the 1970s. It is based on African harvest celebrations. Kwanzaa begins on December 26th and lasts for 7 days. This holiday reflects an ancient, living tradition and culture reflecting the African thought and practice of seeking the moral meaning of life.
4. Our Lady of Guadalupe: A Mexican celebration which precedes Christmas. The celebration is in honor of the Virgin Mary. Each year, it is accompanied by parades, traditional dress, fireworks, feasts, concerts, dances and parties. Afterwards, preparation for the Christmas season begins in earnest. The first of nine posadas is held on December 16. These are fiestas, which represent Joseph and Mary's arduous pilgrimage on their way to Bethlehem, and there are nine posadas, from the 16 to the 24 of December, because they symbolize Mary's nine months of pregnancy. [from GoMexico - at About.com]
5. Omisaka: Japanese New Year's eve celebration, one of the most important holidays of the year for the Japanese. This is a festive evening - spent eating well and preparing the house for the three-day New Year celebration. "The first three days of the new year were the most joyful time. I used to look forward to them each year. During these three days, everybody was free from his or her daily chores. Fathers are free from going to work; mothers free from housework; and we, kids, were free from study. We were not only free from study but also allowed to do various things that were prohibited otherwise. I could watch TV as much as I wanted. I was allowed to have a sip of rice wine, which minors are prohibited to drink. The New Year's break was a special time of total freedom and joy." [from an interview with Mr. Hisato Kawata - Indiana East Asian Studies]
6. Broken Claw: Jane would llike to add content from our Native American friends who have a large variety of events which are as much a part of the overall holiday festivities as are all of these other religious and cultural events. Here is a link to many, many Native American stories - full of imagery, lore, and the very essence of what makes the human spirit so strong. They are timeless...as are all the celebrations of the season.
Learning about the world's holiday celebrations - discovering little nuances in each holiday festival - embracing the diversity of being human - is mandatory in a world connected via the Internet.
If you take the time to realize that women everywhere are the prime caretakers of home and hearth, and holiday celebrations, that we not only accept this duty with solemn respect, we embrace it with eager happiness, you begin to understand the power of using this time of year to woo us...
It's not hard to win us over -- if you stop to consider: Women LOVE the decorations. We LOVE the emotional attachment to history, the cultural perspective, the way our family values are tied up in neat, red bows, and we especially LOVE the individual heritage carried from one generation to the next, via these heartfelt celebrations. Show us how important those elements are to you, too. And, you'll have us at Hello.
What's not to like about that?