My Holidays by Aricia De Kempeneer

For me the holiday season equals family. In my family we have Christians, atheists and Buddhists, but we all celebrate together in December. It’s a time to be merry, joyful and have fun just being together. I count myself very blessed with a loving mother and father, a brother who is always there for the hard and the fun times, a loving boyfriend and a big family full of nieces and nephews and aunts and uncles and grandparents and a big family in law as well. So much love coming together is wonderful. Click on the arrow for more.

During the holiday season we always have a big celebration on my mother’s side and on my father’s side. But because my mother’s brother is married to my father sister, my cousins have the same grandparents. So it’s very fun being so close to family.
We always do secret Santa where you have to give something small to a member of the family. Usually someone puts together a quiz or game night to play all together. We usually eat turkey with vegetables and potatoes and a lot of dessert.

Throughout the years, more and more children joined as well as boyfriends and girlfriends; the more people the more joy. In the last years sadly we have had to say goodbye to my godfather and my grandfather. So these celebrations remind us of those persons and how we should celebrate live and their memories.

All across Europe there are Christmas markets, so my partner and I always try do go to a different one. Brussels, Gent, Aachen, Amsterdam, Keulen, London,… to get in the festive season. Who wouldn’t love the smells of delicious food, walking next to booths full of wonder in a winter wonderland with Christmas music playing everywhere.

At the start of the new year we also have a family weekend in the south of Belgium with my boyfriend’s family where we enjoy each other’s company, go for walks in the snow and also do secret santa.

I can say I’m looking forward to the holidays! I hope all of you have a wonderful time, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

 

Holiday Traditions in India by Samridhi Mittal

India is a land of diverse cultures with multiple religious, ethnic, lingual diversity. It is an integration of several cultures which make it so unique. Every culture has its own traditions, customs, festivals, dressing style, food preparations, prayer forms and a different holiday calendar. The most exciting and amazing fact is that despite having several cultures, every Indian enjoys and celebrates most of the festivals together. Click on the arrow to read more.

New year, Republic Day, Independence Day, Gandhi Jayanti are celebrated nationally. Baisakhi, Lohri, Sankranti, Holi, Diwali, Eid, Christmas, Chhath Puja, Durga Puja, Dussehra, Onam, Pongal, Raksha Bandhan, Janmashtami, Guru Purab, Maha Shivratri, Navratri are some of the Indian regional festivals. Each festival in India has a mythological story behind it. The uniqueness of India’s diversity lies in it’s unity for diversity where all respect and celebrate together all festivals, practice religious customs, feast and fast together to enjoy this festivity.

Diwali is one of my favourite festival with a week-long family holiday and celebration. This year it was more special as my niece was born in this week. It became a grand family celebration for us.

Day 1 of this auspicious week is called Dhanteras. Entire house is cleaned and decorated. Rangoli- the traditional art on the floor is made in vibrant colours. Utensils and gold is bought which is considered auspicious.

Day 2 is Chotti Diwali. I and all the females in house put up henna on our hands. Home made sweets are prepared.

Day3 is the main celebration day. Lakshmi Puja symbolizes welcoming goddess of wealth and prosperity. Diya are lit, prayers are offered to Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi. We exchange gifts with friends and family. Children enjoy fireworks and crackers. Sweets are distributed in family. This year we welcomed my little niece, so we had a special party with in family on this auspicious day.

Day 4 is Vishkarma’s day. On this day worker’s worship their tools and celebrate an off day from work. Special meals are cooked at home.

Day 5 is Bhai Dhuj. I have fond memories of tying a band (Rakhi) on my brother’s arm and as a gift my brother gives me a warm hug. He always gives me a special gift also.

The week-long Diwali celebration enlighten us and bring the entire family close to each other. Every year the same tradition continues with fervour and enthusiasm.  Now that Diwali is over, I am already waiting for next year’s Diwali celebrations.