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This quiz concerns festivals celebrated by people of different faiths all around the world in the month of December. It shows how man for generations has exalted Him and His presence on earth in this blessed month in so many beautiful ways and found light, peace, bliss.


1. 'Advent' is the beginning of the Church Year for most Churches in the Western tradition. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, and ends on Christmas Eve 24th December. This year, it is celebrated on 2nd Dec. The word Advent means "coming" or "arrival." Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, anticipation, preparation, and longing for the coming of Lord Jesus Christ. How is this preparation honoured?

2. 'Hanukkah' (also spelled 'Chanukah') and known as the 'Festival of Lights', is an 8 day annual Jewish festival from December 5 to 12 this year. The festival is observed in Jewish homes by the kindling of lights on each night of the holiday - one on the first night, two on the second, and so on. The number 8 has special significance in Jewish theology. What does the number 8 represent?

3. 'Bodhi Day', traditionally December 8th, is the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day the historical Buddha, experienced Enlightenment, also known as 'Bodhi' in Sanskrit or Pali. According to tradition, he had undertaken years of extreme ascetic practices and decided to sit under a Pipul tree and simply meditate until he found the root of suffering, and how to liberate one's self from it. He made a great vow to Heaven and Earth to find the root of suffering, or die trying. He finally found the answers he sought and became Enlightened, and experienced Nirvana and earned the title Buddha or "Awakened One" - one who has permanently overcome greed, hate, ignorance, and has achieved complete liberation from suffering. Enlightenment is the highest form of happiness.

What was Buddha's name at birth?

4. While Christmas is popularly celebrated on December 25 all over the world, in Mexico, Christmas is an important holiday for traditional Christian Latino's who celebrate by re-enacting the search by Joseph for a room at an inn for Mary to give birth to Jesus. One of the most colorful traditions is the posada party, celebrated every evening from December 12 to 24. What does the word 'posada' mean?

5. 'Eid ul Adha' is a festival of sacrifice. On December 20 this year, this Islamic festival marks the end of Hajj (the holy pilgrimage to Mecca ) and is celebrated by Muslims the world over. The Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam, which every adult Muslim must undertake at least once in their life if they can afford it and are physically able. Hajj is the concluding act of pilgrimage and is observed even when not on pilgrimage. For how many days does this pilgrimage last?

6. For Jains, December 20 is also marked as a very important day known as ‘Mauna Jiyaras’. This day is regarded as the anniversary of the birth of many of the Tirthankaras or Pathfinders. What does the word ‘Mauna’ mean?

7. For most children in Holland, the most important day during the Christmas Celebrations is St. Nicholas' day. St. Nicholas, called 'Sinter Klaas' in Holland, is where Santa Claus comes from. On the morning of St. Nicholas' Day, Sinter Klaas travels to Amsterdam in a boat, wearing his red bishop's robes. He travels with his servant called Black Peter. When Sinter Klaas and Black Peter come ashore from the boat, all of the local church bells ring in celebration. Sinter Klaas then leads a procession through Amsterdam, riding a white horse, to meet the Queen of Amsterdam in the Palace. When is St. Nicholas Eve celebrated in Holland?

8. Zoroastrianism is an ancient religion. The Founder of Zoroastrianism was the Persian Prophet Zorathustra, meaning "He of the golden light". December 26 is Zartusht-no-diso day [one of the three Persian calendars], when Zoroastrians commemorate the death of their Prophet, Zarathustra who was the first Prophet who brought a monotheistic religion and taught that there was one God, Ahura Mazda. Religious services are devoted to his memory and to the spirits of the dead, known as the fravashis. Special prayers are recited and Zoroastrians go to the Fire Temple to pray. There aren't any elaborate celebrations on the day since it is a solemn occasion. What does Ahura Mazda mean?

9. In Finland, Christmas is not complete without Joulupukki. What does it mean?

10. In Japan, around midnight on December 31, New Year’s Eve, all temples ring their large bronze bells 108 times. It is a tradition called “joya-no-kane". Why 108 times?

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-Heart2Heart Team

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Vol 5 Issue 12 - DECEMBER 2007
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