It's been a busy week here at Clare Florist with lots of beautiful bouquets being sent out in time for Christmas. Though it is Christmas which makes itself most apparent in the shops and on television here in the UK, I wondered what other festivals might be being celebrated at this time of year and I was surprised at how many other winter celebrations there are when I started looking into it! More to come later, but here are a couple that have already been:
Hanukkah, which began this year at sundown on December 4th, is an important Jewish celebration, also known as the Festival of Lights. It commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in the second century BC, following its desecration by the Syrians. The festival lasts eight days and for each day a candle is lit on the the Menorah, a special eight branched candelabra. This recalls the miracle of the small vial of oil which lasted a full eight days until a new supply could be found when the temple was being rededicated. Translated from the Hebrew, Hanukkah means 'dedication' or 'consecration' and it is transcribed into various spellings in the roman alphabet, including Hannukah, Hanukah and Chanukah.
Bodhi Day takes place on December 8th and celebrates the day of the Buddha's Enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. Did you know the Bodhi Tree is actually a type of fig, also known as Pipul? On this day Buddhists dedicate extra time to meditating and reflecting on the Four Noble Truths set out by the Buddha, which concern the nature of suffering and the possibility of transcending it.
To those of you who celebrated Hanukkah or Bodhi Day this year, I hope your celebrations brought some light and warmth into the winter days. We'd love to hear more about how you marked these occasions!