December has finally arrived, and with it comes an abundance of colorful lights, vibrant wreaths and a bunch of family parties.
Most of these celebrations are inspired by Christmas and Hanukkah, the two major religious holidays celebrated by Christians and Jewish believers, respectively, in America.
But, with an increasing amount of interfaith marriages, many American families have had to figure out how to celebrate both holidays, according to InterfaithFamily, a support website for interfaith families.
“Though the character of Christmas has changed significantly in modern times, Christmas has never been, forgive the expression, a small potatoes holiday like Hanukkah. As Jews are increasingly accepted into the mainstream of majority-Christian cultures, and marry into Christian families, there is no avoiding the primacy of Christmas.”
But those aren’t the only religious holidays this month that some families may have to celebrate together. In fact, the Interfaith Calendar organization lists 14 religious holidays for the month of December. Here are those holidays with a little explanation on each.
Dec. 6: Saint Nicholas Day — Christian
This holiday honors the birth of Saint Nicholas, the saint who serves as a role model for gift-giving and is commonly known as Santa Claus, according to Interfaith Calendar.
Dec. 7 to 14: Hanukkah — Judaism
This is the eight-day Jewish festival of lights, which celebrates the Maccabean revolt in Egypt. Eight candles are lit with a menorah to honor the holiday.
Dec. 8: Immaculate Conception — Catholic
In the lead-up to Jesus’ birthday celebration on Christmas, Catholics celebrate the day of Immaculate Conception to honor his mother Mary, who they say was preserved from original sin for her entire life.
Dec. 8: Rohatsu (Bodhi Day) — Buddhist
This holiday celebrates the historical Buddha’s decision and vow to sit under the Bodhi tree until he reached spiritual enlightenment. It’s celebrated through meditation and is embraced similar to how Christians celebrate Christmas to honor Jesus Christ.
Dec. 12: Advent Fast begins — Orthodox Christian
Though Advent began this last weekend, the fasting starts midway through the month with only two weeks until Christmas. The holiday is celebrated by believers lighting Advent candles, hanging wreaths and attending church ceremonies, according to Interfaith Calendar.
Dec. 12: Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe — Catholic
This is a primarily Catholic holiday celebrated by Mexicans and Americans of Mexican descent that honors the reported appearance of the Virgin Mary in Mexico City, according to Interfaith Calendar.
Dec. 16: Posadas Navidenas — Christian
This is a primarily Hispanic Christian holiday that commends Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem to give birth to Jesus, according to Interfaith Calendar.
Dec. 21: Solstice — Wicca/Pagan
Solstice is the point in the year when the earth is farthest away from the sun. Pagans and Wicca believers will celebrate that event through Yule, in which believers also honor “the winter-born king, symbolized by the rebirth of the sun,” according to Interfaith Calendar. Dec. 23: Mawlid el-Nabi — Islam
This is an Islamic holiday that honors the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, who founded Islam. Shia and Sunni believers will celebrate on separate days by reading the prophet’s teachings, according to Interfaith Calendar.
Dec. 25: Christmas — Christian
Christmas is a primarily Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Many will attend church, have family parties and exchange gifts, according to Interfaith Calendar.
Dec. 26: Zarathosht Diso (Death of Prophet Zarathustra) — Zoroastrian
Unlike many of the other holidays in the month, Zoroastrians honor the death of their prophet, Zarathustra, who founded Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions.
Dec. 27: Feast of the Holy Family — Catholic
Catholics use this day to honor Jesus, Mary and Joseph, according to Interfaith Calendar.
Dec. 28: Holy Innocents Day — Christian
Christians solemnly honor the deaths of children killed by King Herod, who was attempting to kill Jesus, according to Interfaith Calendar.
Dec. 31: Watch Night — Christian
For Watch Night, Christians will thank God for the safety they received during the year, according to Interfaith Calendar.
Send Herb Scribner an email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @herbscribner.