We are a nation of immigrants, to invoke the title of John F. Kennedy’s posthumously published book; undeniably a nation descended from immigrants and a nation greatly augmented by immigration.
From this perspective, with the first immigrants motivated by the search for religious freedom, even Christmas is a religious holiday of immigrants.
As this week’s main story on immigrants and religion in Northern Virginia explains, the largest number of current immigrants are from Latin America, and they bring with them a powerful commitment to Christmas through their Catholic faith. In 2010, Fairfax County’s Catholic population numbered 184,183, while Protestant adherents numbered 205,556.
Christmas, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ on Dec. 25, is one of the two most important Christian religious holidays, along with Easter.
Christmas is also a widely celebrated secular holiday and economic stimulus.
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is not one of the most important Jewish religious observances, but it is a celebration that gets added attention from timing. Hanukkah celebrates a great Jewish military victory and the miracle of a one day supply of oil for the temple lasting eight days. Happy Hanukkah to all who are enjoying this holiday, which lasts for eight days and this year began last Saturday evening.
Sikhs celebrated the birthday of their first guru at the end of November. The founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak (1469-1539) preached that there is only One Universal Creator. Guru Nanak brought a message of love and equality to his disciples, the Sikhs, (the word Sikh means a disciple or seeker of truth) and urged three things: always remember the creator God (Akaal Purkh), always live a honest life and earn a just living and always share your blessings with less fortunate ones (http://www.sfova.org/sikhism).
Buddhists celebrated the day of Buddha’s enlightenment on Bodhi Day, Dec. 8 this year (http://www.ekoji.org).
Diwali, the major Hindu celebration, commemorated with lights welcoming a hero home, was in November this year. Hindu temples in Fairfax include the Durga Temple (http://www.durgatemple.org).
This of course is not an exhaustive list of other religions or of religious holidays in November and December. We welcome letters and comments. Share your religious and holiday traditions. You can submit a letter online at www.connectionnewspapers.com/contact/letter.
You can read the stories in our immigration series at