December 2023 Recognitions
Friday, December 1, 2023
December is a wonderful time of year to celebrate and reunite with friends and family. There are many holidays that you can enjoy this month, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, and more!
December is the Universal Month for Human Rights. Human rights are to be protected with the goal of peace toward all and acting in kindness, dignity, and compassion towards one another.December 1 is World AIDS Day. World AIDS Day spreads awareness of the AIDS pandemic spread by the spread of HIV infection and mourns those who have died of the disease. This year the focus is on diminishing the inequalities in access to HIV care, prevention, and treatment while erasing the stigma and discrimination in health services to those in need.
December 2 is International Day of Abolition of Slavery. The United Nations looks at how slavery has evolved into modern forms, such as human trafficking, child labor and forced recruitment of children in conflicts, and forced marriage. About 50 million people are victims of some form of slavery. In modern and historical forms of slavery, both leave deep scars with trauma and discrimination persisting toward those subjected to this mistreatment, which are typically those most vulnerable.
December 6 is St. Nicholas Day. It is also known as the Feast of Saint Nicholas, where Christians honor the birthday of Saint Nicholas who is the inspiration behind Santa Claus, given his proclivity towards gift-giving.
December 8 is Bodhi Day. It is observed to celebrate the anniversary of the morning star (Venus) rising in the sky in the early morning, the third night, and when Buddha reached spiritual enlightenment. In Japanese Zen, it is known as Rohatsu and the Chinese version of this festival is called Laba. In the Mahayana culture, a tree is adorned with decorations and colored lights to signify the three jewels and the path to enlightenment.
December 12 is Our Lady of Guadalupe Day and is celebrated by Mexicans and Mexican Americans, which honors the Virgin Mary’s reported appearance in Mexico City. The day has been declared a national holiday in Mexico.
December 16 marks the beginning of Posadas Navideñas, which celebrates Mary and Joseph’s trek to Bethlehem to give birth to Jesus.
Hanukkah begins Thursday, December 7, at sunset and ends Friday, December 15. The Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication” and celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple in 164 BCE. On this Jewish festival of lights, a candle is lit each day with a menorah, special prayers are said, and traditional foods honor that day long ago and the reclaiming of the Holy Temple.
The December Solstice occurs on December 21. This is when the sun makes its way back to the earth, the shortest day of the year and the longest night. This event is honored through Yule, celebrating the return of the sun. The traditions of a Yule log, the decorated tree, and wassailing can all be traced back to Norse origins of the 8th century, of people going door-to-door, singing, and offering a drink from the wassail bowl in exchange for gifts. This practice is now called caroling.
Christmas Eve is on December 24 and marks the culmination of the Advent period before Christmas, which starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Eve. Many churches mark the end of Advent with midnight church services.
On December 25 we celebrate Christmas Day. It is a day that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It is also a day for spending time with family and enjoying holiday traditions.
Boxing Day is celebrated on December 26 in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Traditionally, the holiday was celebrated by giving to the needy and less fortunate, but Boxing Day has evolved in several ways. Boxing Day is also now a time of year when shops traditionally offer big sales after Christmas in the United Kingdom, similar to Black Friday in the United States.
Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26 through January 1. It is a seven-day African American holiday celebrating family, community, and history. There is a lighting of the Kinara daily, and the seven candles represent Kwanzaa’s Seven Principles (or Nguzo Saba). The feast, called Karamu, is usually held on the 6th day and is based on African harvest festival traditions from many areas of Africa.
December 31 is New Year’s Eve. It marks the final day of what is known as a Gregorian calendar year. New Year’s Eve is celebrated in many countries by dancing, eating, drinking, and watching or lighting fireworks. The Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball was first dropped in 1907. Some families eat black-eyed peas and cabbage on New Year’s Eve, which is believed to bring good luck and fortune for the new year.
Whatever you do and wherever you go, we are making someone’s season a little bit brighter, especially for those struggling this season. The joy of our work is the kindness we give to those we meet. Have a happy and healthy December and a Happy New Year!
Chaddrian Calhoun and Rhonda Curtright
APFA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee