Christmas is right around the corner! We love this time of year as a time to celebrate and share gifts with the ones we love and those less fortunate than us. Have you ever wondered however what other holidays there may be around the world that celebrate gift giving. Take a journey through these festive holidays. First is Diwali a Hindu Celebration:
(Excerpt from Wikipedia) Diwali or Deepavali is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated every year in autumn in the northern hemisphere (spring in southern hemisphere). It is an official holiday in Fiji, Guyana, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. One of the major festivals of Hinduism, it spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. Its celebration includes millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings in the communities and countries where it is observed. The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five-day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Karitika in Bikram Sambat calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November. Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate, and decorate their homes and offices. On Diwali night, people dress up in new clothes or their best outfit, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, participate in family puja (prayers) typically to Lakshmi – the goddess of fertility and prosperity. After puja, fireworks follow,then a family feast including mithai (sweets), and an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends. Deepavali also marks a major shopping period in nations where it is celebrated. Eid Mubarak, a wonderful Islamic celebration
(Excerpt from Fusion.net) Eid is about community. Eid Mubarak, which means “a blessed holiday” in Arabic, is a common greeting between Muslims during the holiday. Phones are flooded with cheerful and happy messages. Young people compete in a constant competition for the best Eid selfie or photo-message. Family and friends gather after prayers to eat, with entire generations coming together to exchange gifts. It’s tradition to visit the eldest family members’ home to celebrate with them and cheer them on, with sons and daughters required to bring them sweets and gifts. Pancha Ganapati-
(excerpt from christinathepolyglot.wordpress.com) Pancha Ganapati is a modern winter holiday for the Hindus, which is full of family-centered activities, such as picnics, outings, feasts, and gift giving (especially for the children). During the five days of Pancha Ganapati, which is from December 21st to December 25th, the Hindus worship Lord Ganesha (the elephant-headed Lord of culture and new beginnings). Family members would work to rectify past mistakes and bring Lord Ganapati’s blessings of joy and harmony into their lives by focusing on a different sadhana (self-enrichment) for each of the five days. Each day, a tray of sweets, incense, and fruits are prepared and then offered to Lord Ganapati, preferably from the children. They also sing and chant songs to praise him and give colorful presents to the children, who will then place them before Lord Ganapati.