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Understanding the Many Beautiful Diverse Holidays

Posted on 16 Dec 2021 by Angie

Last week, many of us celebrated Christmas. For some, Thanksgiving officially kicked off the holiday season. For others, the holidays started in September. Growing as a community means growing in understanding about the beautiful diversity of holidays. Being mindful of diverse holidays brings more opportunities for inclusion—and a stronger Goldfarb community.


Whether or not you celebrate any holiday, Goldfarb wishes you a MERRY EVERYTHING and HAPPINESS ALWAYS.


Below is only a sampling of holidays and their meanings:



Hanukkah, which means dedication in Hebrew, is celebrated Nov. 28 through Dec. 6 this year. The eight-day celebration, also called the festival of lights, celebrates the rededication of the second Jewish temple in Jerusalem after it was destroyed. As part of the cleansing of the temple, a menorah was to burn all night, every night until a new altar could be built. Even though there was only enough oil to keep the menorah's seven candles burning for one day, the candles continued to illuminate the Holy Temple for eight days. Those who took part of the rededication believed they witnessed a miracle. This event inspired the annual festival of Hanukkah.


Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah at home by lighting a menorah, playing dreidel, singing songs, and exchanging gifts. Hanukkah foods include latkes and jelly doughnuts.


Rosh Hashanah

This is the Jewish New Year and one of Judaism's holiest days. The festival, which typically falls during September or October, commemorates the creation of the world and marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, a 10-day period of introspection and repentance. It's celebrated with prayer, festive meals and 100 joyful horn blasts each day to serve as a call to repent from sin. Jewish people aren't supposed to work on this holiday.


Rosh Hashana culminates in Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement. In the Jewish religion, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are the two "High Holy Days."




Ramadan is a Muslim holy month that includes fasting and prayers. Fasting during the holiday is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, along with the daily prayer, declaration of faith, charity, and pilgrimage to the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The holy month celebrates when Mohammad, whom Muslims believe is a prophet, revealed the holy book, the Quran, to Muslims.


After sunset prayers during Ramadan, Muslim gather at event halls, mosques or at home with family and friends in a large feast called "iftar."  In 2021, Ramadan began in April. The holy month follows the Islam lunar calendar with months that are 29 to 30 days long, so it begins 10 to 12 days earlier each year.



The five-day Diwali is one of the biggest festivals celebrated by Hindus all around the globe. Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists also may celebrate Diwali. The festival of lights signifies peace and joy, the victory of good over evil and light over darkness.


To prepare for Diwali, people decorate their homes and cities with lights, oil lamps, candles and flowers. Families also offer gratitude and pray to the Hindu goddess of wealth to bless them with health, wealth and prosperity. Over five days, Hindus clean house, buy new furnishings and exchange gifts. In 2021, the main festival day was celebrated Nov. 4, 2021.



Kwanzaa is an annual week-long cultural celebration of family and community inspired by "first fruit" harvest celebrations in Africa. Kwanzaa draws from the cultures of various African people and ancient traditions. In 2021, it will be observed from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.


The holiday is marked by feasts, music, and dance. African American families celebrate Kwanzaa in many ways, including song and dance, drums, storytelling, poetry readings, candle-lighting ceremonies, and a large traditional meal. The last day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to reflection and recommitment to Kwanzaa's seven principles: unity; self-determination; collective work and responsibility; cooperative economics; purpose; creativity; and faith.



Christmas, held annually on Dec. 25, celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, a symbol of love, light, hope and peace. Christians believe Jesus is the son of God sent to save people from sin. Christmas celebrations and traditions include nativity scenes, decorated evergreen trees, twinkling lights, family gatherings and meals, and gift exchanges.


Over time, Christmas has become both a religious and cultural holiday. Santa Claus is a secular representation of Christmas. Santa is depicted as a jolly man with a flowing white beard and red suit who drives a flying sleigh led by reindeer. Children are encouraged to behave so Santa will deliver presents to them on Christmas Eve.

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