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Celebrations of Different Religions

Updated: Dec 7, 2021

Christmas is a celebration originating from the Christian religion and is widely celebrated locally despite only 38.3% of people in Hawthorn being Christian. According to the 2016 census, 61.8% of Hawthorn residents are either; not religious or did not state a religion (49.7%); or are non-Christian or have a non-classified religious belief (12.1%). Following Christianity other religions practised locally are Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism, and Judaism.

If not celebrated for its religious origins, Christmas and the holiday season surrounding the day is an opportunity for family and friends to connect. Many religions have various significant celebrations that bring families together, often to share a meal. These celebrations are either on the same date each year and based on the standard Gregorian calendar used worldwide, or follow a calendar that is different, such as the lunisolar calendar, and the date is different each year.

Immaculate Conception Church

In the Christian faith Christmas symbolises the birth of Jesus. Jesus was said to be God’s greatest gift to mankind, which is why presents are exchanged on Christmas Day. Gifts, like Jesus, symbolise love, kindness and the gift of eternal life that Jesus gave. Christmas Eve and Day are both of significance and celebrated on 24 and 25 December.

Amongst other religious events, one of the biggest Holy days celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists is Diwali, also called ‘festival of lights’. Diwali symbolises the spiritual triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. The festival lasts for five days and takes place in the Hindu Lunisolar month of Kartika, which is mid October to November in the Gregorian calendar.

Hanukkah is similarly referred to as ‘the festival of lights’ by the Jewish faith and celebrates the recovery of Jerusalem in 2 BCE. Over eight days and eight nights, one candle of the menorah, representing each day of the festival, is lit until all eight candles burn brightly. Hanukkah, one of multiple Jewish festivals and holy days, takes place on the 25th day of the Hebrew calendar month of Kislev, which falls in the Gregorian December each year, although the exact dates differ.

For followers of Islam one religious observation is Ramadan, a month of fasting, prayer and reflection, celebrating the first revelation of the prophet Muhammad. Observers fast until sundown, then break their fast with a nightly feast called Iftar. Ramadan falls on the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar Hijri calendar, which lands around the Gregorian months of March or April. In Islamic countries, cities come alive at night and shops stay open until 3am.

Rohatsu, or ‘Bodhi Day’ is celebrated by Buddhists, particularly Japanese Zen Buddhism. Rohatsu takes place on the eighth day of the twelfth month, 8 December, and celebrates the awakening and enlightenment of the Buddha. Despite different religions, faiths, ancestry, and languages among the residents of Boroondara, many celebrations generally have something in common. They represent an opportunity to connect with family, friends and loved ones, and often share a meal and rejoice together.

St Columb's Church


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