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Not Just Christmas!

Halloween is over – the ghouls return to their haunting grounds, costumes collect dust in the cupboard for another year and we begin trading pumpkin spices for gingerbread lattes. The stores promptly wipe away their cobwebs and witches brooms and switch straight into red and green Christmas cheer.

Spooky Scary Skeletons remixes into “it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas” on the supermarket speakers. For many of us it goes Halloween, Christmas and then New Year, but Christmas isn’t the only holiday celebrated during the coldest months of the year.  

Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead - 1st- 2nd November

November kicks off with Día de los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead. No this isn’t an alternative Halloween. You might have seen a representation of this holiday in Disney Pixar’s 2017 movie Coco. Día de los Muertos might share the same theme of death as Halloween but swap out the vampires and zombies for celebration of your ancestors. A Mexican celebration to show love and respect to those who came before you, some of which you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting. Throughout Mexico, an array of colour unfolds across the streets as parades are held with bright makeup and costumes, as they make offerings to their lost loved ones.  

Diwali - 4th November

Diwali – the festival of lights – is the most important date in the Hindu calendar as it represents the triumph of good versus evil. It is a celebration of Rama’s eventual defeat of the evil spirit Ravana, and his return to his home. This is the season for dinner parties and to bring families together. The festival of lights is celebrated over five days. The day before Diwali – chotti Diwali’ (or ‘little Diwali’) – served as the final preparations for the big day with today being seen as an opportunity for last-minute errands and the chance to exchange gifts. The third day is considered the main Diwali celebration – prayers are sent to Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth, power, beauty and prosperity) and Ganesha (the god of beginnings), clay lamps brighten up houses with fireworks lighting up the night sky, and a lavish dinner awaits.  

Hanukkah - 28th November - 6th December

Hanukkah – a Jewish holiday lasting eight nights – commemorates the Maccabean Revolt against the Syrian-Greek army. During the celebration, a Menorah is lit using one candle to light the others each night of the holiday. Many families also give gifts for each night of the holiday. Traditional foods like potato latkes or Sufganiyot are enjoyed throughout Hanukkah.  

Winter Solstice - 21 December

Winter Solstice is known to be the shortest day of the year. However, it has always been seen as a significant time of year in many cultures throughout the world. Shortest day in terms of sunlight. This happens twice every year in both the Northern and Southern hemisphere. Pagans celebrate the Winter Solstice as Yule. The Norsemen saw the sun as a wheel that changed alongside the seasons and would celebrate by lighting bonfires, telling stories and drinking ale.  

Kwanzaa - 26th December - 1st January

Kwanzaa is a celebration of family and culture within the African-American community. It originated as a way to help African-Americans reconnect with their African heritage. It celebrates what is called the seven principles of Kwanzaa:  

  1. Umoja (Unity) 
  1. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) 
  1. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) 
  1. Ujamaa (Cooperative economics) 
  1. Nia (Purpose) 
  1. Kuumba (Creativity) 
  1. Imani (Faith) 

Omisoka - 31st December

Omisoka is a Japanese holiday similar to New Year celebrations, celebrating the close of the old year and opening up the new one to come. Bonenkai parties are held to help forget the past year with people sending cards and gifts to their loved ones. They also make rice cakes and decorate their homes with sacred Shinto straw rope.  

Chinese New Year - 1st February

New Year marks the start of a fresh year full of opportunities and marks a way of putting the past year behind us. Chinese New Year marks the start of the new year, a little later than other parts of the world with the lunisolar Chinese calendar marking 1st February 2022 as the start of a new year. 

There are many holidays that get overshadowed by the Christmas preparations happening up and down the country. No matter which holidays you celebrate, celebrate loud and proud – loud enough to drown out the sound of stores playing Christmas music before December begins.  The Cohorted team wishes every single one of you a Happy Holidays this winter season! 

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