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Nativity scene
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How do different faiths celebrate Christmas?

There are many different faiths and some of those different faiths celebrate Christmas. With 4200 different religions, there are some that celebrate Christmas, and others who have their own wintertime celebrations. Let’s take a look at some of the ways different faiths celebrate Christmas!

Religions at Christmas

Who celebrates Christmas?

By name, it is a holiday for Christians. However, the holiday is celebrated by other religions and even atheists. This may be because as a holiday it has grown to focus on gift-giving and spending time with people you care about. And this is something many people can get in on.

Another group of people who celebrate Christmas are Buddhists. Many still celebrate the holiday as they see Jesus as a man and a teacher, rather than the Christian viewing of him as a messiah. They believe his teachings complement those of Buddha, who was said to have found enlightenment during what we know as the festive season. And for that they celebrate Christmas. Buddhists practice peace and goodwill during Christmas, giving gifts and sending cards to loved ones.

What do other cultures celebrate instead of Christmas?

Hanukkah Menorah
Photo by Enrique Macias on Unsplash

Hanukkah

Rather than celebrating Christmas, Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah in the wintertime. The holiday begins on the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev, which is around November – December.

Hanukkah is an 8-day event, and the name translates to the festival of lights. Every day Jewish people light their menorah and celebrate by spinning dreidels and having delicious meals. The holiday itself commemorates when the Jews were able to reclaim their land from the Seleucids around 200 BC.

Diwali Rangoli Hindu faith
Diwali Rangoli Hindu faith

Diwali

Many Hindu families celebrate Diwali which is before Christmas in either October or November depending on the Lunar Calendar. Diwali is the festival of lights. Although similarly named to Hanukkah, they are not to be confused.

During Diwali, Hindus will light oil lamps called diya and they will pray to the goddess Lakshmi, or a preferred God or Goddess associated with a particular region or community, to bring blessings of health and wealth to their household. For the prayer, they will make a home altar adorned with grains, flowers, sweets and spices. Another practice popular at Diwali is when Hindus decorate with a colourfully patterned Rangoli, a floor design, made of coloured powders, sand, spices, beans and lentils. Fireworks and candles are a main feature of celebrating Diwali.

Lanterns
Photo by Rawan Yasser on Unsplash

Do Muslims celebrate Christmas?

Muslims do not celebrate Christmas. The major religious celebration in Islam is Eid, which indicates the end of Ramadan.

Ramadan falls on the 9th month of the Islamic religious calendar, this means it will not always be at the same time of year as it works on the lunar calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar. With the shifting date of the celebrations you can expect that Ramadan has occurred during the Christmas period.

During Ramadan, Muslims fast for a month. Ramadan is to remember when the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

During this time Muslims pray and spend time with their families. At the end of Ramadan, they celebrate with Eid ul-Fitr, which is the festival of breaking the fast. For Eid ul-Fitr Muslims will wear their finest clothes and celebrate with family and friends.

Noel
Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

What is Christmas called in other religions?

Around the world, Christmas goes by different names. Whether or not you have faith you will know the holiday by something. Some people know the season as Christmastide. Although the actual time of Christmastide is from Christmas Eve until after New Years or Epiphany in some countries. Epiphany is a feast held on the 6th of January to celebrate God through Christ.

In France Christmas is called Noël, the word coming from the Latin verb that means ‘to be born’. You may hear people saying Joyeux Noël, which means Merry Christmas.

You may also hear people who are Roman Catholics call the day the Feast of Nativity. This is because in the 4th century AD Pope Julius of the Church of Rome decided that Christians would celebrate Jesus’s birth with a feast, which he named the Feast of Nativity.

Although, now when we hear nativity, we think of the scene depicting baby Jesus in the manger with Mary, Joseph and the barns animals. In some nativity scenes, the wise men are present but the whole scene has become a strong Christian symbol.

Photo by Hulki Okan Tabak on Unsplash

Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?

The holiday itself is Christian. However, some of the traditions we associate with Christmas come from pagan holiday celebration.

For example, having a big meal with your loved ones on Christmas. The pagans would have a feast for yuletide and the winter solstice. Another example would also be having a tree propped up in your home. Although many know this to be a German tradition, the pagans were the first to gather around trees for celebration.

What is the pagan name for Christmas?

Pagans do not celebrate Christmas, but there is a festival called Yuletide. Before Christmas was established as a celebration of the birth of Jesus in December, the Pagans would celebrate the winter solstice at a similar time.

 

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