By: Rhiannon Cook
The season near and at the end of each year is one of the most celebrated times around the entire world. People of all cultures, ethnicities, and religions come together to enjoy all sorts of festivals and traditions, each with special customs and plenty of entertaining activities.
The Squire had the opportunity to interview the Jacob family, who lived in India for around seven years. They shared about the widely celebrated holiday of Diwali, the festival of lights. It is a celebration of the triumph of light over darkness, or good over evil. It is also the beginning of the new year in the Hindu calendar. The Jacobs explained that the holiday’s dates change yearly, as it is based off the Hindu lunar calendar; it usually falls at the end of October and leads into November.
The story of the holiday’s origin, a fight between two gods, varies by region, but its meaning remains quite the same. Diwali festivities are spread over five days, each day consisting of something different yet just as important. The Jacob family explained to The Squire that many traditions are carried out, such as cleaning the house and purchasing gifts of gold, the making of clay candles to be lit and giant drawings of chalk, powder, and rice. Prayer is also a huge focus of the holiday. The eldest daughter of the Jacob family, Jordan, mentioned her favorite part of Diwali is the main event on the last day of celebration. “Everyone goes out onto the terraces and watches the nightlong firecracker show,” she shared. It sounds like a beautiful holiday!
Though there are multitudes of unique holidays celebrated near and far, Christmas is still one of the most observed across the globe. Denmark has a reputation of having a fantastic time when it comes to celebrating Christmas and the New Year. The Squire was able to ask Christopher Cook, who just so happens to be my- Rhiannon Cook’s -father, about his time in Denmark and his observance of the holiday season. “It’s a nonstop celebration – you go from one house to the next, one feast after the other!” he explained. “And they take firework shows to the next level. It was a whole other experience.”
Cook continued to explain that fireworks are set off all night for several nights, by any and everyone. He admitted that it can be quite loud and chaotic, but the atmosphere is amazing. In Denmark, they have a fun tradition when it comes to the turning of the year; right before midnight, everyone tries to stand on top of something, like a chair or a coffee table. And when the clock strikes twelve, they all jump off of their perches as they say “Godt Nytår!” or “Happy New Year!” This is their way of literally jumping into the new year.
Cook mentioned that Christmas is much calmer. In fact, so calm, that he says that the country seems “virtually shut down.” No transportation is running and shops close early on Christmas Eve. Everyone is with their families, feasting, opening presents, singing around the tree, and attending midnight mass. Christmas Day and the days following are for visiting family you could not on Christmas Eve. Based on Cook’s descriptions, Denmark has quite a lovely festive season.
The Squire thanks the Jacob family and Christopher Cook for sharing about their experiences with the holiday season around the world. It all sounds like wonderful ways to celebrate and enjoy time with family while honoring traditions and relaxing. This holiday season, The Squire hopes you enjoy some memorable traditions of your own with family and friends.
Picture Credit: The Jacob Family