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What’s in December Other Than Christmas?

The Independent
The Menorah, popular symbol of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah

As the weather gets colder and winter approaches, many people get in the holiday spirit. Starbucks releases its winter menu items. Houses are decorated with white, green, and red lights. Lawns are covered with inflatable Santas and reindeer. Living rooms are decorated with Christmas trees and stockings. Christmas music blasts on the radio as you drive to school or work. Although Christmas is the most popular December holiday in the United States, it is not the only one. Different cultures and parts of the world celebrate many other holidays in December.

St. Nicholas Day:

The Christian holiday of St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6th. It marks the birthday of Saint Nicholas, a bishop known for helping the poor and kids. In many parts of Europe, they celebrate the Feast of Sinterklaas, which begins on December 5th. They observe and exchange small presents. Children leave their shoes out in hopes that St. Nicholas will come by and leave them chocolate and small gifts. St. Nicholas later became the inspiration for America’s Santa Claus. 

Bodhi Day:

Observed by Buddhists, Bodhi Day celebrates the day Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, achieved enlightenment. There are many accounts of this day, but the basis is Siddhartha Gautama was a prince who was sheltered from the harsh realities of the world until he was exposed to them all. This led him to question life since he had always believed everyone lived pleasant lives. He left his sheltered life in search of answers. For years, he studied under many masters, but he had no success. Drained from his failed attempts, he sat under a tree to rest and vowed he wouldn’t get up until he found the answers he sought. He sat under that tree (that would later be known as the “Bodhi Tree”) meditating for days. According to, Siddhartha Gautama awoke from his meditation, enlightened, on the morning of the 8th Day of the 12th moon of the year. He realized that we suffer because we cling to things; therefore, if we don’t cling, we don’t suffer. These became the Four Noble Truths, and Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha. Although Bodhi Day is technically the 8th Day of the 12th moon of the year, many celebrate it on December 8th, the 8th day of the 12th month of the year.


This eight-day Jewish holiday, spanning from December 7th to December 15th, celebrates the reclaiming of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem from the Syrians and its rededication to the service of God. When they went to light the Menorah, there was only enough oil for the candle to burn for a day, but with a miracle, it burned for eight. Today, the Menorah, a nine-branched candle holder, plays a significant role in the holiday. One candle on the Menorah is lit each day of Hanukkah. The ninth candle, called the shamash or helper, is used to light the other candles. Usually, blessings are recited before the lighting, and songs are sung after. Menorahs are lit in every household and synagogue. Other traditions include frying foods in oil, exchanging gifts, and playing with four-sided spinning tops called dreidels. Although Hanukkah has become more prevalent in America, it’s still a minor holiday from a religious perspective.

It’s important to know that Christmas is not the only December holiday. There are many, and above are just a few of the other holidays celebrated in December.


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Betty Fiedler, Staff Writter

My name is Betty Fiedler and I’m a junior here at Barlow. This will be my second year on the Bruin Banner. I enjoy playing soccer and love sweat tart ropes.

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