As the most popular religion in the world, Christianity has had a major impact on the holiday seasons around the world, particularly since businesses have seen the commercial power of some Christian festivals.
However, it’s not just Christianity that has major religious events which are important to people. According to a study by Pew Research Centre in 2012, 84% of the 2010 world population was affiliated to some kind of religion, and only 39% of these were Christians. That means you are likely to know, work with, or meet people of other religions regularly, and being aware of what major religious events they celebrate is key to ensuring we are understanding and accepting.
With that in mind, here is a brief analysis look at events of the world’s three most popular religions: Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.
Christianity – Easter
Whilst Christmas is no doubt the bigger commercial holiday, Easter is arguably more important in terms of the Christian religious calendar. According to Christian scripture, Christmas marks the birth of Jesus Christ, but Easter is the commemoration of his death, resurrection and the sacrifice for the people. This death and sacrifice is key to Christian teachings about the unconditional love of God and forgiveness of sin.
Easter is celebrated widely in Christian leaning countries, especially due to its commercial value. Often, families will eat chocolate Easter eggs, which started off as symbols of resurrection and new life. These can also be hidden inEaster-egg hunts and are enjoyed by Christians and non-Christians alike. Those that are Christian also celebrate the festival by going to church both on Easter Sunday and importantly, the four Sundays before the final Easter day, as candles are lit to commemorate the build-up to the day.
Islam – Ramadan
Islam is the second most popular religion in the world and whilst not a single ‘event’, Ramadan is a key period for Muslims around the globe. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar; the month where the Qur’an – the holy book of Islam – was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Additionally, Ramadan is mentioned in the Five Pillars of Islam, a set of fundamental rules for all Muslims to follow. Specifically, Muslims are required to fast during the daylight hours, only eating early in the morning and late at night.
Alongside this, many Muslims choose to pay their Zakat during Ramadan. If you are looking to learn what Zakat is, there are countless resources available but to summarise, it is another Pillar of Islam which requires Muslims to donate a portion of their wealth each year to those who need it most.
The dates of Ramadan change each year but if you are close to a Muslim, they will definitely know when it has started and will fast accordingly. At the end of Ramadan comes Eid, the festival of breaking the fast, where friends and family in the Islamic community come together over a feast
Hinduism – Diwali
Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is a key date not only celebrated by Hindus, but Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists too. The festival is a celebration of good triumphing over evil, with most celebrations focusing on lights and special lamps called ‘diyas’ placed around the home and in rows or patterns.
The festival is another lunar-based event, meaning that its exact date changes each year. Alongside the use of lights, celebrations also include exchanging of food, live music, bright floor patterns and generally time spent celebrating with family. India is known as the biggest celebrator of Diwali but it is a festival with a presence all around the world, too.
These events are far from the only religious occasions around the globe but they are some of the most popular. It’s important to learn about celebrations outside of what we are used to, even if it’s just so that we can talk to others about their beliefs more easily. Hopefully, this quick introduction will make it easier to chat to religious individuals you meet or know.