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It’s that time of the year Decemberagain! Lighted trees are showing up in picture windows, homes are being decorated from head to toe with lights and the spirit of giving is in the air. In Wisconsin, December has become synonymous with Christmas, when in fact, there are many religious and non-pagan holidays occurring. Let’s take a look at a few together:

Saturday, December 5, marks the first day of Hanukkah, also known as the “Festival of Lights.” This eight-day celebration commemorates the miracle that happened in the Jewish temple during a religious war. Temple candles only had enough oil to burn for one day, yet they continued to burn for eight. According to a 2014 population, there are 28,255 Jews in Wisconsin.

On Tuesday, December 8, Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day, the day that Buddha achieved enlightenment. The Buddha was born as Siddharta Gautama, into a privileged household, but retreated into the woods at age 29 in search of answers related to his suffering of old age, sickness and death. He found enlightenment under a fig tree after 49 days of continuous meditation at the age of 35. Buddhists celebrate by meditating, studying the Dharma, chanting Sutras and performing acts of kindness.

You may be surprised to learn that there are 51 Buddhist temples located in Wisconsin!

On Saturday, December 12, Catholics of Mexican heritage typically celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe to honor Mary, the mother of Jesus. The celebration commemorates the day St. Juan Diego encountered the Virgin Mary in 1531. Legend says that Mary appeared to Juan and told him to ask the bishop to build a church on Tepeyec Hill. The bishop agreed to the request if he could prove that the incidence was indeed a miracle. Juan returned to the location to find roses in a spot that had previously been cacti. A church was built in honor of the event.

Monday, December 22, marks the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. This holiday celebrates the rebirth of the sun beginning of winter. In the early days, winter solstice traditions gave people optimism that sunny days were ahead, even during the coldest and darkest days. Over time, Christian leaders found ways to relate the holiday to Christmas. In multiple languages, people have traditionally compared the rebirth of the sun with the birth of the son of God. Many of our Christmas traditions including gift giving, wreaths and feasts can be traced back to winter solstice rituals.

Although the majority of us celebrate Christmas this year of the year, it’s important to remember that it’s not the only holiday happening. Do you know of any other special holidays taking place in December?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Lions Pride! Please consider Lions pride in your annual year end giving.