End of year common time for many faiths to celebrate family, peace

NANAIMO – Various faiths observe different festivals and traditions around the Christmas season.

’Tis the season to be jolly or to light the yule log or dance around the bonfire, read holy scriptures, give presents, share with the hungry or simply spend quality time with family and reflect on what’s really important in life.

Christmas, celebrating the birth of Jesus and traditions surrounding that observance, might be the main theme of the season among Canadian Christians, but there are other traditions celebrated here by various religions.

Gift giving and the sharing of food with those less fortunate seems to be universal, but how the season is observed spiritually varies somewhat.

Douglas Headworth, chairman of Interfaith B.C., said his members will ring in the New Year by encouraging people to make Nanaimo a city of compassion, culminating in three days of compassionate action around Valentine’s Day.

“That’s what the Interfaith, as a broader community, is looking at this year – just bringing compassion and joy to the mid-Island lives of all of our faiths and traditions and remembering the golden rule,” Headworth said.

Druids, which Headworth happens to be, celebrated the winter solstice on Saturday by observing the Falling of the Holly King (the Winter King) and the start of the Rise of the Oak King and the transition toward summer. The celebration includes the ancient Celtic practice of burning a yule log, usually a log cut from holly, that represents winter’s passing into embers. Mistletoe is also hung to celebrate the return of light to the world and to help give expression to true love.

Hannukah and the lighting of the menorah is celebrated by the Jewish faith Nov. 25-Dec. 5.

The period represents a time of struggle for the Jewish people more than 2,000 years ago when the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks) who ruled Jerusalem attempted to convert the people of Israel to Greek culture and religion.

There really is no religious festival coinciding with Christmas in the Jewish faith other than the lighting of candles for the Shabbat or sabbath, observed every Saturday, which this holiday season fall on Dec. 21 and 28, and the reading of the Torah.

“It’s a very, very special day,” said rabbi Meir Kaplan. “To be able to stay home – we don’t watch TV – we just sit home with the family and talk about the things are important in life. I think this is a message anyone can take – the idea – especially in the kind of world we have today and at this time of year when everyone is running and rushing and not having a moment to sit and think about what are the important values we live for.”

Sikhism also has festivals that happen around the holiday season, but the reasons for those observances are far removed from Christmas.

“In the Sikh religion, something goes on every month because there are 10 gurus,” said Joe Dodd, president of the Vancouver Island Khalsa Diwan Society. “We celebrate almost throughout the year, but most important is the Guru Nanak birthday – the first guru.”

Near Christmastime the martyrdom of the 10th Guru Gobind Singh’s children is celebrated followed by the observance of his birth on Jan. 5.

Of course some Canadian traditions a have been adopted over the years too, like buying Christmas presents.

“In our situation or any family, if you don’t have gifts for the kids or whatever, the kids get upset,” Dodd said. “Whatever goes around … I’m doing it. I live in Canada. It’s a holiday and a peaceful time.”

Just Posted

Nanaimo rapper Sirreal plays the Port Theatre on June 25. (Photo courtesy Alanna Morton)
Nanaimo rapper Sirreal and friends play the Port Theatre

Live-streamed concert the second in venue’s Discovery Series highlighting local artists

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement, stating that Nanaimo will see temperatures between five-10 degrees above seasonal the next two days. (News Bulletin file)
Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement, stating that Nanaimo will see temperatures between five-10 degrees above normal the next two days. (News Bulletin file)
Heat wave will see Nanaimo temperatures rise 5-10 degrees above normal

Sun with highs of 28 C forecast by Environment Canada for Harbour City on Sunday and Monday

According to a staff report, Regional District of Nanaimo has seen some $13.6 million in grant applications approved between Jan. 1 and May 15. (News Bulletin file)
Close to $14 million in money granted to RDN in first half of year

Successful grants include more than $4 million for transit service in Regional District of Nanaimo

A section of the rail corridor on Vancouver Island. (Black Press file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Put rail trail right overtop of the tracks

Removing tracks would be a horrendous expense, says letter writer

District of Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain, left, and Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards sign a memorandum of understanding outside Snaw-Naw-As Market on Friday, June 18. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Lantzville and Snaw-Naw-As sign memorandum of understanding

District and First Nation create joint working group

Robin Dutton, left, and Peter Sinclair are taking their mountain bikes and travelling down trails in the Mount Benson area June 19 as part of a 24-hour fundraiser benefiting Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Full-day mountain bike fundraiser gives financial support for Nanaimo food bank

Event part of Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank’s Food 4 Summer campaign

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding partnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read