For those who are not into the mainstream holidays of the season, there are hundreds of alternatives for this winter. One of these holidays is focused on peace on Earth and goodwill toward people without the religious aspect; HumanLight is is a secular celebration held on Dec. 23 and is designed to honor and express the positive values of reason, compassion, humanity, and hope. The holiday was created and developed by leaders of the New Jersey Humanist Network, and was first celebrated publicly in December 2001 in Verona, New Jersey.
Newtonmas is a holiday celebrated from religions such as Scientology, as well as atheists and those skeptical of religion. The holiday celebrations can range from nonexistence to a full family affair. “Newtonmas” was named after Sir. Isaac Newton, who was born on Dec. 25, according to the Julian calendar. The holiday, which was publicized by Skeptics Society founder Michael Shermer and featured in a 2009 episode of The Big Bang Theory, include gift giving of science books and humanist tracts.
One student at South High does celebrate this holiday, Russel Mentzer ‘18. “I don’t celebrate Christmas because I’m not Christian. I mostly just take advantage of the discounts and buy myself stuff.” said Mentzer.
A more well known holiday would be Hanukkah. Hanukkah is a holiday celebrated by the Jewish to honor the revolt of the Maccabees against the Seleucid Empire. It starts on the 25th day of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar. The Jewish set a candelabrum, commonly known as a menorah, on a table or a night stand and light a candle for eight days, and on each day family members are supposed to give a present to each other. Other festivities include playing dreidel and eating oiled-based foods such as latkes and doughnuts.
The Winter Solstice is coming up on Dec. 21, marking the shortest day and the longest night of the year. To the Northern Hemisphere this is called the December Solstice and to the Southern Hemisphere the June Solstice. The Winter Solstice happens because the earth’s axis rotates slower during this particular day. On this day a few much older religions, such as Pagans, celebrate rebirth and a twelve-day celebration of a holiday called Yule.
“I don’t celebrate Christmas,” Alexander Goth ‘16 said. “My family is Jewish and we usually play with dreidel.”