It’s that time of year again, when the holiday season begins. At our house, it starts especially early. While I love the fun of Halloween, October marks the kickoff of a long holiday season.
With six birthdays and anniversaries as well as three(!) separate New Year celebrations*, our family’s festivities start in October and go through March.
The Hindu New Year, Diwali, follows the lunar calendar. Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is symbolized by small oil lamps illuminating the darkness. This five-day celebration falls across a new moon anywhere between mid-October and mid-November.
This year, Diwali occurs on November 14. We always celebrate with new clothes, a freshly cleaned house, bright lights, a big homemade meal of vegetarian food, fireworks, gifts, and devotional service for success in the new year.
So if you have neighbors who appear to have put up their holiday lights especially early, or if you’re wondering about all the fireworks this weekend, now you know why.
Of course November isn’t complete without Thanksgiving. I have always loved the universal appeal of being grateful for what we have.
No matter your religion or belief system, Thanksgiving offers us a chance to reflect on the year and the blessings we have. In a year as fraught with chaos as 2020, taking the time to take stock of the positive provides an important opportunity to reframe our thinking.
While we may not all be celebrating Thanksgiving in the big gatherings as usual, we can still remember the meaning of the holiday.
An unsung benefit? Perhaps celebrating more quietly will offer us a respite from the inevitable family dramas that ensue when we all get together.
The Common Thread
Both of these major holidays reflect in gratitude and togetherness. As in all cultures, they also celebrate with feasting, family, and friends.
While we aren’t celebrating with big parties and lots of gatherings as we normally might, it doesn’t lessen the value of the holidays in my eyes. I’m taking this opportunity to teach the kids the purpose of our traditions. We’re discussing what our prayers really mean and why we should be thankful for what we already have.
How does your family celebrate when the holiday season begins?
*You know you want to know. Our three New Year celebrations:
- January 1
- Cheti Chand, a flood-myth holiday unique to the region of India our family is from