Searching for Deeper Holiday Meanings Web Sites Serve Up the Season's Spiritual Connections

By Cook, James | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), December 21, 1995 | Go to article overview

Searching for Deeper Holiday Meanings Web Sites Serve Up the Season's Spiritual Connections


Cook, James, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Amid all the commercial clatter, it's easy to overlook the fact that not all holiday traditions revolve around a fat little man bearing gifts. Everywhere, this is a season of celebrations and festivals, which makes it a good time to take a peek at the traditions of others.

A good place to start is the Holiday Fun Facts page, which offers a glimpse of seasonal celebrations, past and present, from around the world. For example, did you know that during the Tibetan Celebration of the Dying Year, dancers dress in masks to frighten evil spirits away from the coming year?

Closer to home, Jews are in the midst of the eight days of Hanukkah, which commemorate the miraculous burning of an oil lamp in the Jerusalem temple following the Maccabees' revolt in 165 b.c.e. To understand who the Maccabees were and the significance of the miracle--or if you just want to know more about dreidels and menorahs--visit the Jewish Communications Network's Hanukkah Links Page for serious and fun aspects of the holiday.

Many African-Americans celebrate Kwanzaa December 26-31. Since the non-denominational event began in 1966, it has steadily gained popularity. A major emphasis of the festival is the unity of the family. It also offers an opportunity to focus on spiritual and social concerns while celebrating African heritage.

Many Christians also choose to make the season a time for spiritual contemplation. One Christmas tradition centers around a reading of the original Christmas story. The Web offers several versions--including one in Pig Latin. However, I think you'll be happier with the King James version. It's available on-line as the Hypertext Bible {KJV}. The relevant verses are Luke 2:1-20.

Other stories have also become traditional Christmas reading. O. Henry's "Gift of the Magi" is the kind of tearjerker you couldn't stand any other time of year. …

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