Tired of Christmas celebrating already? Or maybe you don’t celebrate it all. There are many other holidays and celebrations to celebrate in and around Vancouver this time of year.
Winter Solstice or the December Solstice is the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. It is a Pagan holiday, also known as Yule, and, much like Christmas, gifts are exchanged, and a Yule tree is put up and decorated. The celebration is mostly about strengthening family bonds, connecting with ancestors, deepening understanding about spiritual renewal and love, and celebrating one’s heritage. The twenty-third annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival on December 21 is being held on Granville Island along the False Creek Seawall and in the community centre. There are three different processions that start at 6 o’clock in the evening and all finish at the False Creek community centre. This is completed with a final light show. There is a “Labyrinth of Light” which is at Performance Works on Cartwright Street. The Winter Solstice Festival also offers activities in Yaletown, Strathcona, and at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden in Chinatown. Some locations encourage donations, while others ask for an entry fee. It may be a winter celebration, but it is not Christmas themed.
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday Hanukkah which celebrates the rededication of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. It lasts for eight days and on each day, a candle is lit on a special Menorah called a Hanukiyah. The Hanukkah Festival of Lights is being held at the Trout Lake Community Centre in Burnaby at 11 o’clock in the morning on December 17. It is a family event for all ages. There will be music performances, Hanukkah art making, a traditional dance for everyone to participate in, and lots of traditional food. There will be a menorah-lighting ceremony at the Vancouver Art Gallery on December 12 at five-thirty in the afternoon. Hot cocoa and donuts will be available there while people enjoy live music. These two events are not related but they are both to celebrate Hanukkah. People may also recognize Hanukkah with different spelling; Chanukah, Channukah, Hannukah, and Hannukkah.
After Christmas, there are two holidays that many people look forward to; Boxing Day and New Year’s. On Boxing Day and the day after, the Contact Winter Music Festival, Western Canada’s largest EDM (Electronic Dance Music), is being held at BC Place. Kwanzaa is also widely celebrated this time of year; it honours African heritage in African-American culture, but there are not many places to celebrate in or around Vancouver. This year that also starts on the day after Christmas. There is also Santa Lucia Day, a Swedish holiday that was marked as the winter solstice in the old ‘Julian’ calendar, and Three Kings Day, mainly celebrated by Catholic and Orthodox Christians, which take place on December 13 and January 6 respectively.
Though Christmas gets most of the publicity, there are many other holidays that people celebrate whether it’s relating to their religion or a cultural tradition.