Of all the things we hope for this time of year, perhaps nothing is more important than peace on earth. In that spirit, here’s a quick primer (in alphabetical order) on who celebrates what this time of year. After all, it’s only a better understanding of one another that can truly lead to peace. Happy holidays to all!

My husband Steve and me. Happy holidays 2016!

Bhuddists celebrate Bodhi Day: 8 December – Day of Enlightenment, celebrating the day that the historical Buddhaexperienced enlightenment

Christians celebrate:
Hindus in the U.S. celebrate:
Historical enthusiasts celebrate:
Jews celebrate:
  • Hanukkah: Ḥănukkāh is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the re-dedication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire of the 2nd century BC. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar.
Pagans celebrate:
  • Yule: Pagan winter festival that was celebrated by the historical Germanic people from late December to early January.
  • Yalda: 21 December – The turning point, Winter Solstice. As the longest night of the year and the beginning of the lengthening of days, Shabe Yaldā or Shabe Chelle is an Iranian festival celebrating the victory of light and goodness over darkness and evil. Shabe yalda means ‘birthday eve.’ According to Persian mythology, Mithra was born at dawn on 22 December to a virgin mother. He symbolizes light, truth, goodness, strength, and friendship. Herodotus reports that this was the most important holiday of the year for contemporary Persians. In modern times Persians celebrate Yalda by staying up late or all night, a practice known as Shab Chera meaning ‘night gazing’. Fruits and nuts are eaten, especially pomegranates and watermelons, whose red color invokes the crimson hues of dawn and symbolize Mithra.
Others celebrate:
  • Human Rights Day: 10 December
  • Zamenhof Day: 15 December – Birthday of Ludwig Zamenhof, inventor of Esperanto; holiday reunion for Esperantists
  • Soyal: 21 December – Zuni and Hopi
  • HumanLight: 23 December – Humanist holiday originated by the New Jersey Humanist Network in celebration of “a Humanist’s vision of a good future.”
  • Newtonmas: 25 December – As an alternative to celebrating the religious holiday Christmas, some atheists and skeptics have chosen to celebrate December 25 as Newtonmas, due to it being Isaac Newton’s birthday on the old style date.
  • Quaid-e-Azam‘s Day: 25 December
  • Boxing Day: 26 December – Day after Christmas.
  • Kwanzaa: 26 December–1 January – Pan-African festival celebrated in the U.S.
  • Watch Night: 31 December
  • New Year’s Eve: 31 December – last day of the Gregorian year
  • Hogmanay: night of 31 December–before dawn of 1 January – Scottish New Year’s Eve celebration
  • Dongzhi Festival – a celebration of Winter
Unitarians celebrate:
Chalica: first week of December – A holiday created in 2005, celebrated by some Unitarian Universalists.