AD | Most people strive to be as welcoming as possible in their life. You don’t judge a book by its cover and when you’re meeting new people or making friends, you look past any of your differing views to appreciate them for who they. Everyone is unique in the end (which is what makes people so great).
Religion has always been a bit of a contentious topic and this post isn’t meant to talk about religion as a concept, instead, let’s look at how you can support your religious friends. Even if you don’t share the religious beliefs of those around you, making the effort to learn about the festivals, celebrations and holidays which matter to your closest friends is a great act of friendship.
Use this quick guide to learn everything you need to know about three of the major religious holidays aside from those in Christianity, Ramadan, Hanukkah and Diwali.
Ramadan is actually a month-long period rather than a single holiday. Celebrated as one of the most important months in the Islamic calendar, the time that Ramadan begins and ends is based on the lunar cycle, which is why it changes very slightly each year.
Ramadan is a holy month that centres around fasting for a specific number of hours per day and doing good things for those around you. Throughout the Islamic religion, there is a large emphasis on giving to charity and supporting those less fortunate than you, which is emphasised even more during Ramadan when Muslims often pay their Zakat, a compulsory charity donation based on their total accumulated wealth.
If you have friends celebrating or partaking in Ramadan, be aware that they can only eat before and after dawn, so you won’t be seeing them snacking during the day. On top of this, you’ll find them spending a lot of time with family and taking days off for some of the more important days throughout the month. You can find more information about the celebrations as well as a Ramadan calendar here.
Hanukkah is an 8-day Jewish festival also known as the Festival of Lights. It is a commemoration of a story in which the people of Israel fought and won a battle against the ruling Seleucids who had taken over the country. The Seleucids had tried to force the Jews to change their beliefs and upon their defeat, the Jews reclaimed Jerusalem’s Holy Temple, led by Judah.
The reclamation of the temple involved the lighting of the Menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum which is commonly associated with Judaism and plays a big role throughout the religion. The festival’s name is a direct reference to the lighting of this Menorah, which lasted a miraculous 8 days on only a single day’s worth of oil.
During Hanukkah, Jews progressively light the flames of their own eight-pronged Menorah, lighting an additional candle each evening until the final day. Alongside the lighting, there is worship and the recital of special blessings.
During this holiday, Jews spend lots of time with family, lighting the Menorah as a group and eating heartily. Support your Jewish friends by wishing them Happy Hanukkah and if you choose, giving gifts of money to children in the family which is a traditional act meant to encourage charity.
You can find out more here.
Diwali is the only holiday we are looking at that occurs on a single day. Coincidentally, Diwali is also known as the Festival of Lights and is celebrated primarily in Hinduism and Sikhism. Diwali is a celebration of the gods Rama and Sita’s victory over a demon named Ravana, which was written in an ancient poem titled Ramayana.
In the poem, the return of the victorious deities was celebrated by the lighting of lamps across the kingdom, hence the name of the festival. Diwali tends to be celebrated with music, dancing, fireworks and lights, so you can expect to know when your friends are celebrating!
Support Diwali celebrators by obtaining or making some of the traditional Diwali sweets and giving them as a gift. Diwali is about group celebration, so just showing your appreciation for the celebrators is support enough most of the time!
Hopefully, this quick post will have given you some insight into some of the biggest religious festivals around the world. Obviously, the best way to support those closest to you is to talk to them, so never be afraid to ask questions about a religious festival to understand it better.
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Nice post! And thank you for your remembrance about upcoming fasting month of Ramadan this year’s May. I am often writing a lot about Islamic topic too. If you have some time, do visit my blog and together learn about this topic.. 😀
I’m working for the first time with someone who will do Ramadan and I really want to learn as much about it as possible and be supportive.
When I worked for a language interpreting agency, we had a LOT of Somali staff and interpreters, so it was sometimes a challenge to schedule interpreter orientations and continuing ed classes (which are full day events with food catered) around Ramadan – but it was important to be mindful and not make these people sit through 8 hours of grueling information intake without even being able to eat and refuel!
This is such a helpful post! I went to a Catholic school and as a result am very much an atheist but definitely still try to be as respectful as possible to any religion. I didn’t know much about Diwali but it definitely sounds like a celebration I could get behind and like such a happy occasion!
Soph – https://sophhearts.com x