Holidays Around the World


Brent Uberty

(Photo by Brent Uberty)

(Photo by Brent Uberty)
(Photo by Brent Uberty)

The holiday season is often associated with the Christian holiday Christmas. However, contrary to commercialized belief, there is not one correct way to experience Christmas, and it’s also not the only holiday celebrated around this time of year.
Vishnu Reddy, a senior in pre-dental, is an undergraduate student from India. Reddy said Christmas in India is a holiday but is not celebrated in the same way.
“Everybody gets off for Christmas because we know it’s a major holiday, just like we have time off for Eid and Diwali, the other two major holidays,” Reddy said. “Each family celebrates it differently, but all the shopping malls are very lit up, and it’s festive just like it is during the other holidays.”
Sam Hawe, a junior in international studies, spent a semester in the Dominican Republic. Hawe said even though Christmas is also commercialized in Santo Domingo, there was one main difference.
“There’s this huge sponsorship of the only beer company in the nation, Presidente,” Hawe said. “I lived a block away from a park called Christmas Village with this huge, light-up Presidente bottle.”
Hawe said it was a sign of national pride.
“It’s everywhere,” he said. “Presidente sponsors all the big music and cultural festivals, so it would make sense they would sponsor the big Christmas Village. It’s a patriotic thing, I guess.”
Haoran Yu, a sophomore in communications, is an international student from northern China. Yu said Christmas in mainland China is nowhere near as huge as it is in the United States.
“We don’t celebrate it because it’s more of a religion based holiday and China is a non-religious country,” Yu said. “However, recently they’ve started to use the holidays as a good time to sell products. Some people do celebrate it but don’t get a break for that day.”
Within Salt Lake, there are several Christmas alternatives. Atheists of Utah will be holding a Winter Solstice event on Dec. 20.
Lisa Baggerly, secretary of the organization, said the gathering is “essentially a Christmas party simply celebrating the calendar day but not the religious connotations.”
The Pagan community, Salt Lake Witches, will be holding their third annual Crone’s Hollow Festivus Occasion of Merriment. The holiday is derived from the sitcom “Seinfeld” and the occasion will consist of “festivius events” such as an undecorated traditional metal pole, a feast, singing and a loud venting session called “airing of grievances.”
Another alternative is Bodhi, where some practitioners of Buddhism celebrate Buddha’s enlightenment sitting underneath a fig or Bodhi tree. The commemoration is typically held on Dec. 8 and the Salt Lake Buddhist Temple has been known to hold a service in honor of the day. The temple could not be reached for comment on specific traditions or methods of celebration.
Hawe has studied abroad in several countries over the past couple years and experienced different holiday festivities and gatherings this time of year from all cultures.
“I think the December holidays are an awesome celebration of family and love,” Hawe said. “Seeing things all lit up makes me feel like I’m at home, no matter where in the world I am.”
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