Winter Holidays and Cultural Celebrations

November 29, 2021
Submitted By: Office of Diversity and Community Engagement

The University of Hartford campus community includes individuals from countless different cultures and religions. We encourage the campus community to be mindful and respectful of the many different holidays and cultural celebrations that occur during this time of year, to learn more about holidays and customs outside of their own practice, and to be conscious of how their celebration and decorations may impact people of other faiths and cultures on campus.

To raise awareness and understanding of the vast array of winter holidays that may be celebrated by campus community members and the local community, the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement, the Interfaith Employee Affinity Network, and the I-SEE (International Scholarship, Education, and Engagement) Employee Affinity Network have compiled a list of some of the winter holidays and cultural celebrations observed around the world from end of Nov. 2021 through early Jan. 2022, and a list of additional resources for further learning.


  • Nov. 28 – Dec. 6, 2021
  • Jewish Holiday
  • Hanukkah, which is Hebrew for “dedication,” is the Festival of Lights. It commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greek army, and the subsequent miracle of rededicating the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and restoring its menorah, or lamp. The miracle of Hanukkah is that only one vial of oil was found with just enough oil to illuminate the Temple lamp for one day, and yet it lasted for eight full days. (source)

Bodhi Day

  • Dec. 8, 2021
  • Buddhist Holiday
  • Bodhi Day celebrates the day in which Siddhartha Gautama sat underneath the Bodhi tree and attained enlightenment. This one defining moment would become the central foundation upon which Buddhism has been built upon for the last 2,500 years. It is a day on which followers can renew their dedication to Buddhism; reaffirm themselves to enlightenment, compassion, and kindness to other living creatures; and also understand the relevance of this religion as it applies to the modern world. (source)

Gita Jayanti

  • Dec. 14, 2021
  • Hindu Celebration
  • Gita Jayanti Mahotsav possesses huge significance and importance as it is regarded as the birthday of Bhagavad-Gita which is considered as the most pious and influential scriptures of Hindu mythology. It comprises political, spiritual, psychological, practical and philosophical values. Thus, to commemorate the sacred day when Lord Krishna offered his philosophical teachings to King Arjuna during the battle of Kurukshetra, people celebrate Gita Jayanti. (source)

Yule/Winter Solstice

  • Dec. 21, 2021
  • Pagan and Wiccan Celebration  
  • The longest night of the year followed by the sun's "rebirth" and lengthening of days. In most traditions, Yule is celebrated as the rebirth of the Great God, who is viewed as the newborn solstice sun. Some pagans consider Yule to be the beginning of the new year. One of the eight major annual sabbats or festivals. (source)


  • Dec. 21, 2021
  • Hopi (Native American tribe) Ceremony
  • The Soyal Ceremony begins on the shortest day of the year and symbolizes the second phase of Creation at the Dawn of Life. Its prayers and rituals implement a plan of life for the coming year, ceremonially turning back the sun toward its summer path. The longest ceremony on the ceremonial cycle, lasting up to 16 days, sacred rituals are performed in underground chambers called kivas. Many ceremonies involve dancing and singing. (source)

Christmas Day

  • Dec. 25, 2021
  • Christian Holiday
  • Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. (source)
  • In countries with large populations of Orthodox Christians, such as Russia, the Ukraine and Romania, Christmas Day falls on January 7. (source)


  • Dec. 26, 2021 – Jan. 1, 2022
  • African American and Pan-African holiday
  • Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga to: reaffirm the communitarian vision and values of African culture and to contribute to its restoration among African peoples in the Diaspora, beginning with Africans in America and expanding to include the world African community; and introduce and reinforce the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles and through this, introduce and reaffirm communitarian values and practices which strengthen and celebrate family, community and culture. These seven communitarian African values are: Umoja (Unity), Kuji-chagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). (source)

Three Kings Day

  • Jan. 6, 2022
  • Christian Holiday
  • Celebrated most in Europe, Spain, and Latin America, ‘El Dia de los Reyes’, as it’s called in Spanish, marks the glorification of baby Jesus by the Three Wise Men. In Mexico and many other Latin American countries, Santa Claus isn’t as popular as he is in the United States. Rather, it is the Three Wise Men who are the bearers of gifts and leave presents in or near the shoes of small children. The holiday is also known by the name Epiphany. (source)

Resources for further exploration and learning: