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The following series of winter religious holidays was written by Religion Transcends writer Jackie Walker for the Winter 2009 issue of Relate magazine. Relate’s mission is to inspire teen girls to pursue their dreams with confidence and to teach them to be an example for others in their speech, life, love, faith and purity. Religion overviews may have Christian overtones to make the content relatable for the Christian teen audience.

If you’re putting the finishing touches on a winter wonderland of figgy pudding, jingling bells, and neatly wrapped presents, you’re in good company. Each year, about 93% of Americans celebrate Christmas. That’s more than 9 out of every 10 people in the United States!

Of course, Christmas comes in a variety of packages: Santa and his sleigh, Jesus and his manger, the Grinch and his itty-bitty heart. So just what is the real Christmas story? And what are some of the holy nights that the other 7% of Americans are celebrating this winter?

Set aside those gingerbread cookies and read this holiday list (we checked it twice!).


Holiday: Bodhi Day

Date: December 8

Main Players: Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama)

The Story: Bodhi Day celebrates the day Buddha became enlightened – in other words, Buddha figured out what life is really about. The fat Buddha you’ve seen in pictures grew up as a skinny kid named Siddartha Guatama. He lived in a palace with all the riches. But one day he saw four people along the road who were dying or ill. Siddhartha wondered how he could get rid of suffering, so he began following Hinduism. He ate only a grain of rice a day and became super skinny. One day in Bodh Gaya, India, he propped his weak body beneath a tree and began to meditate. There, he suddenly understood the universe and the reason for suffering. He was, as they say, the “enlightened one,” or the Buddha. Buddha didn’t stop there. He could’ve sat under the tree forever, completely content. Instead he went out and preached what he’d discovered. His followers became Buddhists. So Bodhi Day marks the day Siddartha Guatama became Buddha – and Buddhism became a religion.

Traditions: There are no required traditions on Bodhi Day. But Buddhists who want to celebrate can:

  • Meditate like Buddha
  • Chant Buddhist texts (called sutras)
  • Perform kind acts toward others in honor of Buddha

Other installments in this series:
-Judaism: Hanukkah

-Christianity: Christmas

-Islam: Ashura
-Hinduism: Vasant Panchami

Other holidays this winter:
-Islam: Hijra (December 18)
-Wicca: Winter Solstice (December 21)
-Shinto: Gantan-sai (January 1)
-Baha’i: World Religion Day (January 17)
-Buddhism/Confucianism: Chinese New Year (February 14)

Created by Religion Transcends, 2009

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2 Responses to “2009-2010 Winter Religious Holidays: Buddhism”

  • I diffident know that Buddha eat only one bit of rice a day, I thought the fat buddha was the 3rd reincarnation of buddha rather than the original.

    • It depends on whom you ask and where you’re from. There are no actual depictions of Guatama Buddha so there’s no way to know for sure. But many depictions show him as skinny based on his ascetic lifestyle later in life. Some say depictions of the Buddha as fat represent the time before he entered an ascetic lifestyle. Others say the Fat Buddha is a representation of Budai, a Chinese monk from the tenth century whom some believe (as you note) was a reincarnation of Guatama Buddha. Here’s a decent entry for more examination of this topic:

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