Winter Holidays Highlight

Galloway Township enjoys a rich diversity of people - those born in Atlantic County or some other part of New Jersey as well as from many places across the United States and families immigrating here from every corner of the earth. This diversity enriches and challenges us as educators to learn about the customs and cultures of those students and colleagues whose background differs from our own. Our students and their families serve as important sources of information, and help us weave together a rich cultural tapestry.

Instead of succumbing to the "material madness" of December (shopping, eating, parties, traveling, more shopping...), take a moment to reflect on some of the traditions of your friends and neighbors. You might even find inspiration to include some of these customs into your own celebrations!

 December 8:
Bodhi Day

This Buddhist holiday commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautauma, experienced enlightenment. To the Buddhist, it is a day of remembrance and meditation, much like the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus on December 25th. To the layman, a good way of recognizing this important event in Buddhism is to dwell on its meaning and place reminders in the home of this event.  Often, colored lights are strung about the home to recognize the day of enlightenment.  They are multi-colored to symbolize the many pathways to enlightenment.  The lights are turned on each evening beginning on December 8th and for 30 days thereafter.  A candle is also lit for these thirty days to symbolize enlightenment.

Learn more: 

Dec. 18 – Dec. 26: Hanukkah

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, Feast of Dedication, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire of the 2nd century BC. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar – this year that day is November 28.

Learn more:  

December 21–25: Pancha Ganapati

Pancha Ganapati is a modern five-day Hindu festival celebrated from December 21 through 25 in honor of Lord Ganesha, Patron of Arts and Guardian of Culture. The festival was created in 1985 as a Hindu alternative to December holidays like Christmas by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (born Robert Hansen), a Western convert to Hinduism.

Learn more:

Dec. 21 – Jan. 1: Yule
Yule or Yuletide is a pagan religious festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples, later being absorbed into and equated with the Christian festival of Christmas. Yule is celebrated on the Winter Solstice, and symbolizes the “re-birth” of the sun, as the days will continue to get longer post-solstice.

Learn more:

December 25: Christmas
Christmas Day is an annual religious and cultural holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated generally on December 25 by billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it closes the Advent season and initiates the twelve days of Christmastide, which ends after the twelfth night. Christmas is a civil holiday in many of the world's nations, is celebrated culturally by an increasing number of non-Christians, and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season.

Learn more:  

Dec. 26 – Jan. 1: Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration held in the United States and also celebrated in the Western African Diaspora in other nations of the Americas. The celebration honors African heritage in African-American culture, and is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving. Kwanzaa has seven core principles: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (Collective economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). It was created by Maulana Karenga, and was first celebrated in 1966–67.

Learn more:

Concerned about your child's mental health?
 CLICK HERE: PerformCare NJ
 or call 877-652-7624

Department of Children & Family's
 Child Abuse Hotline (State Central Registry):
 1-877 NJ ABUSE (1-877-652-2873)