Most of us here in the United States are referring to Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa when we say "Happy Holidays" to people during the Winter season. However, there are many many more than just those three! You might be surprised at the number of Winter holidays celebrated around the world. Below I name several, but not all, of the celebrations planned for 2010.
September 9th is Eid Al-Fitr, the Muslim Festival of the Purification and end of the Ramadan fast.
November 5th through 9th is Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights.
November 16th is Eid Al-Adha, the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice (Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac).
December 1st through 9th is Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights.
December 6th is St. Nicholas Day, the Christian Saint's Day. Many people around the world receive gifts from St. Louis. Nick on this day rather than Christmas Day.
December 8th is Bodhi Day, the Buddhist Festival of Siddhartha's Enlightenment.
December 16th through 25th is Posada, the Latin American celebration of the Holy Family's journey to Bethlehem.
December 21st is Yule / Winter Solstice, which many cultures celebrate as the beginning of the end of Winter.
December 25th is Christmas, the Christian celebration of Jesus' birth.
December 26th is Kwanzaa, an African-American Festival.
It is also Boxing Day or St. George. Stephen's Day, a Christian holiday for giving gifts to service people.
January 6th is Epiphany / Twelfth Night / 3 Kings Day, a Christian celebration of the visit of the 3 Magi. Many children received gifts on this day from the Three Wise Men instead of Santa at Christmas. Epiphany ends the 12 days of Christmas.
Most holidays can be acknowledged with a "Happy ____________" where the blank is the name of the holiday. However, here are some other appropriate greetings to use on your friends:
For Eid say, "May every year find you in good health!"
For Winter Solstice say, "Brighter days are ahead!"
For Kwanzaa say, "Habari Gani?", Which means "What's the news?" in Swahili.
For Epiphany say, "May the light of the wondrous star guide you always!"
Did you know there were so many Winter holidays? Most cultures have needed winter celebrations since the beginning of time to get them through the dark and cold times when loneliness and depression may set in easily. Most are full of lights, music, feasting, and spending time with friends and family. I can not think of a better way to spend the Winter! Happy Holidays everyone!