By Eustacia A. English – NRWA DEI Columnist
It's the most wonderful time of the year. At least it is for me! I’m in an extremely happy mood from November to January and enjoy spending time with family and friends. Since I was a child, I have always loved Thanksgiving because of all the food. Who knew back then, I was a foodie at heart. I learned early on the meaning of giving thanks, being grateful for all you have, and why my household celebrated Thanksgiving.
Christmas was my second favorite holiday. As kids, my brother and I were allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve. Growing up and going to Catholic school, I learned early on that Christmas was not about Santa Claus, the North Pole, and toys as I once thought.
As I progressed in my career, celebrating holidays at work became hard. I didn’t know what to say to my colleagues. If I said, “Happy Holidays,” was I declaring war on Christmas? If I said, “Merry Christmas,” was I disrespecting my Muslim colleagues? Should we call the party a Christmas party, holiday party, or office party? I learned the safe bet is to call it a seasonal celebration and mention the various holidays celebrated during the season. In the diverse world that we live in, I don’t want to leave anyone out.
In light of my column’s focus – celebrating diversity, equity, and inclusion, I thought it would be fun and relevant to bring awareness to the various holidays celebrated from late November through January.
- November 27 – December 24: Advent, a Christian season of celebration leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ.
- November 28 – December 6: Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greek army and the subsequent miracle of rededicating the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and restoring its menorah, or lamp.
- November 28 – January 6: Nativity Fast, a period of abstinence and penance practiced by the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches in preparation for the Nativity of Jesus Christ.
- December 8: Bodhi Day, the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni), experienced enlightenment.
- December 12: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a religious holiday in Mexico commemorating the appearance of the Virgin Mary near Mexico City in 1531.
- December 16 – 24: Las Posadas, a nine-day celebration in Mexico commemorating Mary and Joseph's trials during their journey to Bethlehem.
- December 21: Yule Winter Solstice, a celebration by Pagans and Wiccans focusing on rebirth, renewal, and new beginnings.
- December 25: Christmas Day, the day that many Christians associate with the birth of Jesus Christ.
- December 26: Boxing Day, a secular holiday celebrated in the U.K., Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Africa.
- December 26 – January 1: Kwanzaa, an African American holiday started by Maulana Karenga in 1966 to celebrate universal African-American heritage.
- December 26: Feast of the Holy Family, a liturgical celebration in the Catholic Church in honor of Jesus Christ, his mother, and his foster father, St. Joseph as a family. The primary purpose of this feast is to present the Holy Family as a model for Christian families.
- December 28: Feast of the Holy Innocents, a Christian feast in remembrance of the massacre of young children in Bethlehem by King Herod the Great in his attempt to kill the infant, Jesus Christ.
- December 31: New Year’s Eve/Watch Night, a day for Christians to review the year that has passed, make confessions, and then prepare for the year ahead by praying and resolving.
- January 1: New Year’s Day, the first day of the year according to the modern Gregorian calendar, is celebrated in most Western countries.
- January 1: Feast Day of St. Basil, a holiday observed by the Eastern Orthodox Church, commemorating the death of Saint Basil the Great.
- January 6: Epiphany or Día de Los Reyes (Three Kings Day), a holiday observed by Eastern and Western Christians that recognizes the three wise men's visit to the baby Jesus twelve days after his birth.
- January 6: Christmas, recognized on this day by Armenian Orthodox Christians, who celebrate the birth of Jesus on Epiphany.
- January 7: Christmas, recognized on this day by Eastern Orthodox Christians, who celebrate Christmas thirteen days later than other Christian churches.
I hope that you find this helpful as you celebrate this season. Keep in mind that we should not assume everyone celebrates the same, nor should we assume that everyone celebrates holidays at all. As for me, ‘tis the season to be jolly, and I will rejoice and be glad in it. With all that has happened with the pandemic, I am looking forward to food, desserts, more desserts, singing my favorite Christmas carols, and making memories with family and friends. Whether you celebrate or not, I wish you all peace, love, happiness, and many blessings as we go into the new year.
Eustacia English is a new volunteer for the NRWA and writes the Perspective column, which examines Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in resume writing and career strategy. She is a 20-year veteran of HR and talent acquisition and started Resumes on Demand last year. She also writes on DEI for The Black in HR e-zine. She lives with her new husband and two children in Cherry Hill, NJ. Find her online at LinkedIn.com/in/ecampbell05.