Temple University Ambler to host Multicultural Holiday Celebration

Temple University Ambler hosts a multicultural holiday celebration on campus each year

The countdown to those special moments with family, friends, and community are underway, but just what holiday are you counting down to?

During this season, running to and from shopping malls and social gatherings, we are typically inundated with a dazzling array of images, most often related to Christmas. At this time of year, however, many of the major religions and cultures of the world celebrate a variety of holiday traditions.

On Wednesday, December 6, the Temple University Ambler Office of Student Life and the Ambler Campus Student Government Association will host the 2017 Multicultural Holiday Celebration, to commemorate many of the major holidays taking place during this season. The event will be held from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., in the Campus Lounge, Bright Hall. Refreshments will be served.

During the event, Ambler Campus students, faculty, and staff are invited to share information, activities, performances and personal anecdotes from their cultural traditions and celebrations. Anyone interested in presenting — be it a cultural talent or just sharing your personal traditions — is asked to contact the Office of Student Life at 267-468-8425. Come out and share your traditions with the campus community!

While some of these holidays may sound familiar, many people may not know their origins. And for globally celebrated holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah, many countries have their own unique traditions.

  • Bodhi Day (Enlightenment Day): Bodhi Day honors the enlightenment of Siddhartha Gautama — the Buddha. Buddhists observe the importance of this event by celebrating Bodhi Day usually on the eighth of December. The day is observed in many ways, including prayer, meditation and teachings.

  • Chinese New Year: Known in modern Chinese as the Spring Festival, Chinese New Year is an important festival celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. A centuries old tradition to honor ancestors and deities, celebrations traditionally run from the evening preceding the first day, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first calendar month. The first day of the New Year falls on the new moon between January 21 and February 20. In 2018, the first day of the Chinese New Year is on Saturday, February 16 — 2018 will be the Year of the Dog.

  • Christmas: Both Roman Catholics and followers of the Protestant faiths celebrate the birth of the Christian Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, according to the date agreed upon by the Western Church in the fifth century. In contrast, Orthodox Catholics of the Eastern Rite celebrate Christmas according to earlier practices, which follow the Julian calendar and place the holiday on January 6. The addition of the gift-bearing Santa Claus is primarily connected with the American and British traditions.

  • Diwali: One of the most important festivals of the year for Hindus, it combines a number of celebrations to honor different gods and goddesses and events in their lives as described by the Hindu Tradition. Lamps are lit for the entire five days of Diwali beside roads, streams, edges of roofs, and on window sills to enable Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of prosperity, to find her way to every home.

  • Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings Day): Also known as the Epiphany, Three Kings Day (Día de los Reyes) is a Christian celebration that commemorates the Biblical story of the three kings - Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar - who followed the star of Bethlehem to bring gifts to the Christ child. This religious holiday is widely celebrated in the Hispanic community, particularly in Puerto Rico, Mexico, and especially by Mexican-Americans. Traditionally in Mexico, Three Kings Day was the gift-giving time, rather than Christmas day. In some regions of Mexico, it was customary for children to leave their shoes out on the night of January 5, often filling them with hay for the camels, in hopes that the Three Kings would be generous. In Puerto Rico on the Eve of the Epiphany children traditionally collect hay, straw, or grass and place it in boxes or containers under their beds for the same purpose.

  • Eid al-Adha: Eid al-Adha or the “Festival of Sacrifice” is a religious festival celebrated by Muslims and Druze worldwide in commemoration of the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to Allah. Eid al-Adha is one of two Eid festivals celebrated by Muslims, whose basis comes from the Quran. Like Eid el-Fitr (see below), Eid al-Adha begins with a short prayer followed by a sermon. Eid al-Adha annually falls on the tenth day of the month of Dhul Hijja of the lunar Islamic calendar. The festivities last for two to three days or more depending on the country. Eid al-Adha occurs the day after the pilgrims conducting Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia by Muslims worldwide, descend from Mount Arafat. It happens to be approximately 70 days after the end of the month of Ramadan.

  • Hanukkah: Often referred to as the Festival of Lights, the holiday commemorates the victory of the Jewish people, led by the Maccabee family, over the Syrian Greeks in 165 B.C. According to legend, when the Jews returned to cleanse their temple, they discovered only enough oil to keep the holy lamp burning for one day. The oil, however, miraculously lasted eight days, the time needed to secure a new supply. Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting a candle on the Menorah on each of the eight days of the celebration.

  • Kwanzaa:  Kwanzaa was started in the United States in 1966 by California State University Black Studies Professor Dr. Maulana Karenga. It means the first fruits of the harvest and is patterned after an East African Harvest Festival. Kwanzaa is a unique American holiday that pays tribute to the rich cultural roots of Americans of African ancestry. Symbols of Kwanzaa are set upon a low table laden with tropical fruits and vegetables. The observance includes story telling about the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Collective work and responsibility), Ujamma (Cooperative economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).

  • La Navidad: On December 24, families gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Depending on the area of South America the family is located in, presents are opened on December 24 or January 6 — when the Three Kings brought gifts to Jesus.

  • New Year's Eve: Celebrated on December 31, the final day of the calendar year and the day before New Year's Day. In the western world, the celebration involves parties with friends and family (or massive throngs in Times Square) until the moment of the transition of the year at midnight.

  • Oshugatsu: The Japanese New Year is a traditional festival which has been celebrated for centuries and has its own unique customs, such as sending New Years postcards, and playing holiday games. In ancient times, the Japanese New Year was based on the same Chinese calendar as the Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese New Year. Since 1873, Japan has followed the same months as the Gregorian calendar, so January 1 is the official New Year's Day for Japan. It is one of the most important festivals of the entire year.

  • Ramadan and Eid el-Fitr: Eid el-Fitr, or “Feast of Breaking the Fast,” is held at the completion of Ramadan, the month of fasting for the Islamic faith. Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar, is a time when Muslims throughout the world fast daily and concentrate on their faith through worship and contemplation. Ramadan is of particular importance to Muslims since it is believed to be the month in which the first verses of the Holy Quran were revealed by Allah to the Prophet Muhammad. At the end of Ramadan, the festive three-day holiday of Eid el-Fitr is celebrated by attending special congregational prayers in the morning and visiting the homes of friends and family for large meals. In some cities, fairs are also held to celebrate the holiday.

For more information on the Multicultural Holiday Celebration, contact the Office of Student Life at osl@temple.edu or 267-468-8425.