Winter holidays around the globe

Winter break is indeed the season to be jolly, for many reasons. The month of December is filled with several holidays across different times and cultures. 

The Islamic celebration Mawlid al-Nabi (Birth of the Prohet) is the first holiday of the month and takes place the evening of Dec. 11 to the evening of Dec. 12. Born an orphan, Muhammad was known to be a respectable caravan trader who was chosen by God as the final prophet sent to bring monotheism to humanity. Muhammad’s birthday is celebrated in Muslim communities around the world, but on different days depending on the lunar calendar. Festivities include street festivals and religious concerts. 

The winter solstice on Dec. 21 is not so much a holiday as a phenomenon marking the shortest day and longest night of the year. This is due to the positioning of the earth’s axis as the northern hemisphere begins its move towards the sun until June. Celebrated by ancient groups around the world, the solstice acknowledges the change of seasons and the return of longer days. 

Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, an eight-day celebration for members of the Jewish faith, starts on the evening of Dec. 24. A relatively minor holiday on the Jewish calendar, Hanukkah celebrates the success of the Israelites in rebelling against the Greek Seleucid Empire (the Maccabees) in 162 B.C. 

The Holy Temple, according to tradition, was built by King Solomon in Jerusalem and restored from Hellenistic shrines after a rebellion. Jews light candle each night on a menorah (a special candelabra), sing, play games and eat latkes (potato pancakes). 

Finally, the holiday of Christmas takes place on Dec. 25. Itis the most-anticipated holiday on the calendar. Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, theawaited Messiah who later died for the sins of humanity. Christmas traditions include attending religious services, gift giving with friends and family and decorating evergreen trees with lights and ornaments. 

A week after, the year of 2016 will come to an end at midnight and a new year will begin.