As we come toward the close of the year, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Committee wishes everyone safe and celebratory holiday season. Indeed, December is notable as a month filled with multiple cultural observances and celebrations, many of which are not as widely recognized in the United States. We would like to use this opportunity to increase awareness and understanding about some of the major dates this month that may hold significance to you, your patients, as well as other staff in the long-term care settings where we serve.
Notable December Holidays and Observances:
November 28 – December 6 – Hanukkah: Also known as the “Festival of Lights,” Hanukkah (or Chanukkah) is a Jewish holiday recognizing the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar. Hanukkah begins at sunset Sunday, November 28, 2021 and ends at nightfall Monday, December 6, 2021
December 1 – World AIDS Day: December 1 is World AIDS Day. As we continue our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, let’s not forget the impact of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S. and internationally. Many older clients have lost friends and families because of HIV/AIDS. Contrary to existing stereotypes, more than 50% of those with HIV are aged 50 and over. For helpful resources on HIV and aging, visit Older Adults | HIV.gov.
December 3 – International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPD): Since 1992, the United Nations has established December 3rd as the International Day for People with Disability. It is a day celebrated globally each year to promote the understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of persons with disabilities. Each year the day focuses on a different issue and the 2021 theme is ‘Fighting for rights in the post-COVID era.” For more information, visit International Day of People with Disabilities 2021 (idpwd.org).
December 10 – International Human Rights Day: Also on December 10, in 1948, the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being—regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status. Available in more than 500 languages, it is the most translated document in the world. Each December 10, the commitment to this universal document of rights and nondiscrimination is renewed and celebrated.
12/16-12/24 – Mexico: Las Posadas – is a religious festival that commemorates events associated with the birth of Jesus and traditionally held in Mexico and parts of Latin America. Parties are held at different people’s homes each night during the celebration. Before each gathering, guests form a procession to mark Mary and Joseph’s search for an inn on the night of Jesus’s birth. At each stop, passages of scripture are read, and Christmas carols are sung.
December 21 – Yule Winter Solstice: Winter Solstice is celebrated across many nations. Yule generally refers to something related to 12/25 (the Yule festival, Yuletide) and is first celebrated among the Germanic people. Among Chinese people in different parts of the world, it’s often referred to as “Dong-zhi,” which means the arrival of winter. Families would get together to celebrate. Many Christmas traditions, such as decorating with evergreens and gift-giving are drawn from ancient Yule season celebrations. Some think of it as a time of reflection and togetherness, as well as hope. In the Northern Hemisphere, we begin to receive more light (i.e., the days are longer) again right after this day. Cultures around the world have long held feasts and celebrated holidays around the winter solstice. Fire and light are traditional symbols of celebrations held on the darkest day of the year.
December 25 – Christmas: Celebrating the birth date of Jesus Christ, Christmas is one of Christianity’s holiest observances and is a day marked by worship, gift-giving, and feasting. Orthodox Christmas, which occurs approximately two weeks later using the Julian calendar, falls on January 7 in 2022.
December 26 – January 1 – Kwanzaa: In 1966, Black Americans were searching for their identity, and challenging racism, discrimination, the right to vote, educational segregation, and white supremacy. During this period of civic unrest, a professor named Dr. Maulana Karenga was looking for a concept that would serve as an affirming and enduring celebration of Black life and community. Out of this turbulent period, Kwanzaa was created, based on several different harvest celebrations from different African cultures, such as those of the Ashanti and Zulu people. This year, as Black Americans continue to lead calls for justice against police brutality following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others, Kwanzaa carries special meaning as a reminder of the holiday’s origins in earlier movements for racial justice and equality.