With the start of December a myriad of different Christmas-related events and festivities have started to appear throughout the city.
As one of the largest hubs of multiculturalism it is important to remember that Christmas will not be the only holiday celebration happening this month. Here is a small sampling of some lesser know traditions taking place:
Bodhi Day – December 8:
For Buddhists Bodhi Day commemorates the day that the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, attained enlightenment. It takes it name from the Bodhi tree, which the Buddha meditated under to gain enlightenment. According to Mark Kolar, a devout Buddhist practitioner for over 30 years, Bodhi Day is about taking time to ponder and appreciate the world around us.
“Bodhi Day should be used to just take a moment away from your everyday life and just acknowledge the splendor and beauty of the world around us,” said Kolar.
For people new to the day, Kolar recommends taking a few moments to meditate and perform acts of kindness to others.
“it is important to recognize that we as humans are selfish and by taking a few minutes to be kind to someone or to meditate and ponder life, these things will make you more open and accessible to the world around you.”
Yule – December 22:
Yule, also know as the Winter Solstice, marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. For Neopagans and practitioners of Wicca this day holds a variety of symbolic and religious traditions. It is also one of the oldest known winter celebrations. For Christina Rose, a follower of the Wicca faith, Yule marks the end of darkness and the rebirth of light.
“Yule represents the battle between light and dark,” said Rose. “We see the darkest day and then the sun rises the next day marking the return to days filled with light.”
Rose recommends that newcomers to Yule take the time to reflect and come to terms with the darker times of one’s past.
“You can use Yule to look back at your darkest hour and then look up at the sky and now that brighter and lighter times are coming in your future,” she said.
Zarathosht Diso – December 26:
Zarathosht Diso is a day of remembrance for Zoroastrians. It marks the death of their prophet Zoroaster and is a day of solemn prayer and remembering the life of the prophet.
At more than 3,000 years old, Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions. It is now one of the world’s smallest religions, with a following estimated at fewer than 300,000.
For Zoroastrian, Amir Tehrani, Zarathosht Diso carries with it sadness.
“It is a very solemn and sad day for us, but even more so in Canada because everyone is happy around Christmas,” said Tehrani. “It just shows how diverse this country is, for many are celebrating Christmas and many are mourning the death of their prophet.”
With so many celebrations and festivities related to Christmas throughout December, Tehrani hopes that others will recognize that it is also a month of mourning and remembrance for some.
“I think that if everyone took a moment out of their day to share in another religions traditions then this country would become even more tolerant than it already is,” Tehrani said.