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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Festival of Lights

    The Festival of Lights, the multicultural holiday celebration held in the SAC on December 6, was a great display of the diversity here at Stony Brook. Even as mature, educated college students, when we hear the word ‘holiday,’ we usually just think of Christmas or Chanukkah. Luckily at the Festival, eight different holidays were provided with equally interesting (and tasty!) representation.

    In addition to the eight tables of food and information for each holiday, members of different religious organizations/clubs were present to sing, dance, and proudly represent their heritage. The eight holidays represented were the Winter Solstice, Three Kings Day, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Rohatsu, Diwali, Ramadan & Eid ul-Fitr, and Chanukkah.

    The Winter Solstice is celebrated by Native Americans. This holiday marks the coming year and has to do with the return of the sun. People celebrate through prayer and fasting.

    Three Kings Day is celebrated twelve days after Christmas on January 6. This is a Christian holiday for the three kings, Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar, who followed the star of Bethlehem to bring gifts to the baby Jesus. This holiday is celebrated mainly in Mexico and replaces Christmas as a gift-giving time.

    Kwanzaa is a vibrant celebration of African heritage and family celebrated from December 26 to January 1. There are seven days to Kwanzaa, with a candle to represent a different principle, or ‘Nguzo Saba,’ for each day. These include important principles such as unity, self-determination, and purpose.

    Christmas marks the miraculous day of Jesus’ birth on December 25. Traditionally Christmas is celebrated with a tree and presents, but there are also important symbols such as the Advent, the Advent Wreath, and the Creche, that many people do not think of when they think of this holiday.

    Rohatsu is a Buddhist holiday celebrating the Enlightenment of the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama. This holiday is observed on December 8 and is commemorated by meditation and various Buddhist retreats. These retreats are called Sesshin and are usually held for up to eight days.

    Diwali is an Indian holiday literally translating to ‘a string of lights.’ This happy occasion is celebrated with light decorations and fireworks all around. Diwali marks the New Year and celebrates the different forces of light over darkness.

    Ramadan & Eid ul-Fitr marks a month of fasting for Muslims. This is a spiritual period for Muslims that brings them closer to God. Fasting can be done not only through not eating, but abstaining from other indulgences.

    Chanukkah is a Jewish holiday commemorating survival against difficult odds. Judah the Maccabee restored the Temple of Jerusalem in 165 BC after it had been ruined by Antiochus IV Ephiphanes king of Syria and overlord of Palestine. The eight candles are to represent the eight nights that the light lasted in the temple. This is special because there was only enough oil for one day.

    All in all, this was a worthwhile event with great food, educational resources, and a wonderful performance. To see the diversity and cultural richness of Stony Brook, all you need to do is look around you, or go to more on campus events.

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