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Events of the Month

2003-DECEMBER

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Events during 2003-December:

December is a month of significance to many of the world's religions. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and many aboriginal religions celebrate holy days during this month. 1

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DEC-1: This is World AIDS Day. AIDS has killed about 15 million people; over 45 million are infected -- mostly African heterosexuals. The total number of women infected is now very close to the total for men in sub-Saharan Africa. Tens of millions of children are becoming orphans. 2

bulletDEC-2: This is the First Sunday in Advent in the West, a.k.a. Advent Sunday. Advent is a series of Christian observances leading up to Christmas. It starts on the Sunday that is nearest to NOV-30, St. Andrew's Day. 3 The Roman Catholic Church forbids marriages during Advent. Some Roman Catholics refrain from eating meat on Wednesday and Fridays during Advent.
bulletDEC-6: The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is held annually in Canada on this date. On 1989-DEC-6, a deranged male gunman, entered the École Polytechique de Montréal. His application to admittance at the school had been rejected. He blamed feminists for ruining his life. He shot 27 people: 23 women and 4 men. 14 women died. All the men survived. 5
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DEC-8: This is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, celebrated by Roman Catholics. The feast is linked to the date 1854-DEC-8, when Pope Pius IX formally defined the dogma that the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin circa 20 BCE. Many people believe incorrectly that it refers to Jesus' conception circa 5 BCE.

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DEC-8: Bodhi Day (a.k.a. Rohatsu) is when Buddhists  of the Pure Land tradition recall the enlightenment of the Buddha in 596 BCE. Some years, it is celebrated the Sunday immediately preceding on DEC-8. 6

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DEC-10: This is Human Rights Day, the 55th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 1948-DEC-10 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. The document outlines the minimum human rights standards that should be available in all countries of the world. They include "the right to life, liberty and nationality, to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, to work, to be educated, [and] to take part in government."  The "1000 Lamp Mandala Ceremony" is celebrated around the world to promote peace in Tibet and elsewhere.

bulletDEC-20: Jews observe the first day of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. One candle of an eight-candle menorah is lit each day. The observance begins at sundown on DEC-19. It recalls the war fought by the Maccabees in the cause of religious freedom.
bulletDEC-22: This is the Winter Solstice -- the day with the longest nighttime and shortest daytime of the year. It ocurrs at 7:03 UT or 2:03 EST. Many faith groups and secular groups celebrate on or near this day: Atheists, Druids, Native Americans, and various Aboriginal groups worldwide. Wiccans and other Neopagans often refer to this day as "Yule"; it is one of their four minor Sabbats. Followers of Shinto observe Tohji-taisai, the Grand Ceremony of the Winter Solstice. Many Atheists in the U.S. also celebrate on the solstices.
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DEC-25: This is when Christmas, the nominal birth date of Jesus Christ, is celebrated by the western churches which follow the Gregorian calendar. Most theologians believe that Jesus was born between 4 and 7 BCE, perhaps in the fall.

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DEC-26: This is the first day of a week-long celebration of Kwanza (a.k.a. Kwanzaa, Quansa)  It is an inter-faith African-American and Pan-African holiday celebrating family, community and culture. "Kwanza" is a Swahili word for "the first," or "the first fruits of the harvest". It continues until JAN-1.

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DEC-26: The death of the prophet Zarathustra is observed by Zoroastrians.

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DEC-26: Boxing Day is celebrated in Australia, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. It is apparently related to an old custom of giving cash or presents to poor people. However, nobody really knows for certain why the "box" got into "Boxing Day." Theories abound. It is listed in the Canada Labour Code as a holiday.

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DEC-31: New Year's Eve. A generally secular celebration.

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Although care was taken in the preparation of this list, we cannot accept responsibility for any errors or their consequences.

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References:

  1. Helen T. Gray, "Keeping faith during the holidays," Kansas City Star, 1999-DEC-17. It is a brief article on how followers of four religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Wicca) celebrate their faith near the end of December. Online at: http://www.kcstar.com/item/pages/fyi.pat,fyi/37741687.c17,.html 

  2. "World AIDS Day," at: http://www.worldaidsday.org/

  3. "Music for the first Sunday of Advent," at: http://www.jwpepper.com/advent1.html 

  4. "First Sunday of Advent," at: http://www3.kumc.edu/diversity/ethnic_relig/advent.html 

  5. "National day of remembrance and action on violence against women," at: http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/dec6/
  6. "Bodhi Day: Anniversary of Buddha's Enlightenment" at: http://209.52.189.2/article.cfm/1932/15119 

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Site navigation:

 Home page > Religious information > Holy days > here

or Home page > Holy days > here

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Copyright © 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Essay prepared on 2003-NOV-27
Latest update: 2002-NOV-27
Compiled by B.A. Robinson

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