A New Year couple marries in Minsk (Minsk Urban District) BELARUS
New Year’s Eve revellers in Vitebsk (Vitebsk Oblast) BELARUS
I’m saying “holiday season” with malice aforethought. It’s not just Christmas, kids… for instance, the “Holiday Season” in the USA begins after Thanksgiving, goes through Catholic Christmas, and ends on New Year’s Day. In Canada, it’s similar, but it begins in the last week of November, as Canadian Thanksgiving is more of a proper Harvest Thanksgiving, so, it’s in October. That’s the Secular Holiday Season, and, yes, “Season’s greetings” is quite appropriate.
Catholic Christmas is broke into two seasons… Advent and the Twelve Days of Christmas. Advent centres on the four Sundays preceding Christmas; it’s a season of preparation. The Christmas season proper begins on 25 December and runs until Epiphany on 6 January. St Nicholas Day on 6 December and Secular New Year’s on 1 January overlap this period.
Orthodox Christmas, like Catholic Christmas, has a Lenten period preceding it. For forty days before the Nativity on 7 January/25 December, Orthodox prepare for the feast. After the Nativity, comes the Svyatki (Holy Days), which are equivalent to the Twelve Days of Christmas. The Christmas season ends with Epiphany on 19/6 January. Like Catholic Christmas, St Nicholas Day (19/6 December) and Secular New Year’s overlap the season.
If that’s not enough, the Russian New Year Period begins on New Year’s and ends on 10 January, three days after Orthodox Nativity. To add further spice to this already simmering slumgullion, Jewish Hanukkah season overlaps the holiday period, and the Islamic Ashura and Islamic New Year can overlap the period (the Islamic calendar is lunar and the dates “wander”… as does the Jewish calendar, but not as badly).
Whew! There’s a whole lot of partying going on, for all sorts of reasons, all overlapping the same season. Ergo, “Happy Holidays”… Christmas isn’t the only game in town… and Christians aren’t the only ones celebrating.
3 January 2013