Despite that, it is important to remember some traditions that make us happy whether we celebrate via Zoom or gather virtually to watch a performance or a concert. Whether religious, spiritual, cultural or just social we can share with family and friends, if only at a distance....and we can look forward to sharing in person next year.
Some of the traditional seasonal celebrations are: Christmas which is celebrated in a religious ceremony with the Nativity or in a secular celebration with the arrival of Santa Claus. North of the equator it is a winter celebration with a possibility of a flurry of a white Christmas snow, or below the equator in countries like Australia and New Zealand, people wear shorts, and go camping on the beach. Rather than enjoying with a Christmas tree, in Australia they celebrate by decorating a Christmas bush. Traditions vary as well; Instead of cookies and milk as in the U.S., children in England leave out mince pies and brandy for Father Christmas. In Iceland, there is not one but thirteen Santas, known as Yule Lads. One Lad arrives each night in the thirteen days before Christmas, leaving small gifts in shoes left by the children.
Also a part of the season, Hanukkah is an eight day Jewish tradition which celebrates the re-dedication of the second temple in Jerusalem. Also known as the Festival of Lghts, the celebration is centered on the menorah. For each of the eight days, a candle is added to the menorah and lit by the ninth candle, the shamash. Traditional foods are also a part of the celebration.
Kwanzaa is a relatively new celebration which celebrates harvest traditions in Africa. Based on African traditions, the name means "first fruits" in Swahili. Celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling and poetry reading. On each of the seven nights of the celebration, a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara and one of the seven values of African culture is discussed. A traditional African feast is held on Dec. 31.
Boxing Day, Dec 26, started as a day to give alms to the poor but has broadened into a public holiday in Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In England, soccer matches and horse races are held to celebrate. In the Bahamas, Boxing Day is celebrated as Junkanoo with a street parade and in Ireland it is called Saint Stephen's Day where a special celebration called "Hunting the Wren is held with young boys parading a paper wren through town.
To finish the season, the Japanese celebration of Omisoka is held on December 31 as they celebrate the passing of the old year and the eve of the new year. We, in the United States also celebrate New Year's Eve as well. I believe that we can see positive steps coming as we look forward to the springtime and rebirth of our earth.
These may not be all the ways that you know of to celebrate but please remember to, despite the sadness touching all of us in one way or another this year, celebrate something good in the world, whether it is the happy chirping of a little bird or the whistling of the trees in the forest or the cries of a newborn child. The world is still good and there is much good ahead.