Secondly, because some Religious calendars differ, December holidays vary (not just in the date, but sometimes whether they appear in December at all!). This post is focused on December 2015. Most of these do occur in Dec every year.
And finally, I did my best to find links for each holiday that has traditional celebrations. However, some have more links than others. In the case of Christmas, the trouble wasn't finding enough links, but sorting through an abundance. I've done the best I can.
So let's start with....
Hanukkah/Chanukah is an 8 day festival (this year it starts at sundown on the 6th). Here are 8 homemade decorations. Here are a bunch more Hanukkah decorations you can make (many of them are adorable!). And here are 24 crafts (ranging from place cards to dreidels to menorahs) from Martha Stewart. And finally, here are 23 Vegetarian recipes (many with Vegan or Gluten-free versions, as well as some interesting variations). Ranging from challah to a meatless "brisket" to Matzoh soup to sufganiyot. And even homemade chocolate gelt (coins to those of us Goyim [non-Jewish]).
Rohatsu (aka Bodhi Day) is on the 8th. Because Buddhism is not a very materialistic religion, there isn't much involved with this holiday. Some will put up strings of coloured lights (and light a candle) to symbolize the path to Enlightenment. Others will put lights and three shiny ornaments (to represent the Three Jewels) on a Ficus tree. And a meal may consist of milk and rice. I got this information from How To Celebrate Bodhi Day. What if you don't have a Ficus? Well, you can buy a small ficus tree OR an artificial Ficus (if you don't have a green thumb).
Yule (Winter Solstice) technically falls on the 21rst this year, but at 11:58PM. Some will celebrate on the 21rst, others, the 22nd. Because the early Christian church borrowed heavily from various Pagans, and then Neo-Pagans began reclaiming these customs, much of the symbolism and traditions of Yule are similar to Christmas. I've tried to include some unique information here, but don't forget to check out the links under "Christmas" below for more ideas and recipes! Here are two easy crafts. Since a tree is an important Yuletide symbol, you may want to add a few decorations with Magickal intentions. And we can't forget about the Yule Log! While you CAN burn it (which is traditional), you could also save it to reuse as a centerpiece every year. Here is a list of some other Yule correspondences and decorating ideas. And finally, I'm including a list of recipes (for each Sabbat and some miscellaneous, but Yule is at the top).
But let's not forget: While those in the Northern Hemisphere are celebrating Yule, the Southern Hemisphere celebrates Litha (Summer Solstice). Here are some decorating ideas for you. And some recipes (not all are Veg*n, sorry).
Yaldā (aka Shab-e Chella) is another Winter Solstice festival (in Iran). And thus varies. As mentioned above, the Solstice technically falls on the 21rst this year, but at 11:58PM. Some will celebrate on the 21rst, others, the 22nd. This is a night for gathering with family and friends, often around a warm table called a Korsi. There doesn't seem to be any traditional decorations (if anyone knows otherwise, PLEASE comment and let me know). But there are a few foods (mostly pomegranate, watermelon, and nuts are mentioned). Agil is mentioned a lot in terms of Yaldā food. It's a type of trail mix that is traditionally served. Here's an idea for an appetizer platter that sounds pretty amazing! And here are three recipes (including a traditional food: watermelon)...Veg*ns will want to substitute a Veg*n "chicken" (like Beyond Meat strips) in the "Chicken and Eggplant Stew".
Pancha Ganapati is a 5 day Hindu festival that starts on the 21rst. Unlike many of the festivals mentioned here, it is relatively new. It was created in 1985. The festival honors Ganesh. Here are 10 simple decorations, though a few rely on Thermocol (styrofoam)....an environmentally unfriendly product. However, if something you've ordered comes with sheets of it (as some appliances do), reusing it for these are better than throwing it away. Here's an Eco-Friendly decoration (It doesn't have instructions, but there ARE step-by-step pictures to give you an idea). You can learn to make a Ganpati Makhar and a Black Sun from cardboard. Here's a video (Video Language: Marathi, with English subtitles) on Making Eco-Friendly Lord Ganesh Idols from paper mache. And here are suggestions for food for each of the five days (relying on the colour of the day. Veg*ns: Please note that I have not checked each recipe. From what I recall, many Hindus are Vegetarian, but not all).
Mawlid an Nabi begins at sundown on the 22nd this year. However, what information I've managed to gather is that it's not celebrated in any particular way, as it's an innovated feast. Again, if anyone has other information, please feel free to comment and I will edit it in.
And now we come to Christmas (25th December). This will be the lengthiest entry, simply because there is SO MUCH information out there. This is not meant to emphasize this particular holiday (in fact, some of these ideas can [and are] used by those of other faiths [especially Neo-Pagans]). Let's start with decorations. Here are 24 Cheap Christmas Decorations You Can Make Yourself. And if that's not enough for you, 30 Beautifully Inventive DIY Christmas Decorations (including some great small-space ideas). Here's how to make wreaths (and if you use trimmings from your tree as greenery, it's even cheaper). Here are a bunch of ideas on how to jazz up candles. Though one of my favourite candle tricks (which I've used for Yule, Christmas, AND New Year's Eve) is to take a decorative jar (or clear vase) with a narrower opening, partially crumple up some plastic wrap and insert it, then fill with water, and float a tea light on top. It looks as though the jar/vase is full of melting ice. I say narrower opening because otherwise the plastic wrap will come to the surface. Speaking OF candles, here's how to make your own! And while you're decking the halls, why not decorate yourself with homemade jewelry and earrings! You could buy some cheap cards from the dollar store, but wouldn't it be more fun to make your own? Here are a bunch of wonderfully creative card ideas! Here's an article on "21 Vegetarian Christmas recipes that will wow your guests" (most of which don't appeal to me personally, but everyone has different tastes). You can find a lot of ideas in my Thanksgiving blog, btw. One of the Traditional Christmas foods is Ham. Meat eaters: Right now Coupons.com has coupons for Hormel, Butterball, Carando, and Krakus. For Veg*ns, there ARE meatless "hams" you can buy. MayWah has both a regular and smoked Vegan "ham" (they're a little over 2 pounds and will run you US$11.70 before shipping). If you're looking for something bigger, VegeCyber has a 4 pound Vegan Loaf Square Ham for US$29.99 (before shipping). I can say from experience VegeCyber's "ham" is good. And one more option is the "Cheerful Log" Vegan Ham Loaf by Loving Hut (available at VeganEssentials, but currently sold out), which runs US$16.99 before shipping for a 2.2 pound loaf. Ah, but you can also make "ham" for yourself! Here's one recipe that uses seitan, one that combines tofu and seitan, and one that is just tofu (for those who're gluten sensitive). The other traditional meat of Christmas is goose. Sorry, I'm unaware of coupons, for those who eat meat. Veg*ns can buy a 1 1/3 pound "goose" at Vegecyber for US$9.75 (plus shipping). Or make your own using one of these recipes: The first recipe will require a trip to an Asian market, but will create a more realistic "goose". The second recipe uses common ingredients. A traditional dessert is mincemeat pie. Here's how to make your own mincemeat without suet (you'll need Mixed Spice). You'll want to wash it all down with Eggnog...here are regular, low-fat/sugar-free, and Vegan recipes. And finally, a HUGE (over 570) list of cookies (because I'd rather share this than a whole bunch of links in an already long post).
Boxing Day is on the 26th. It's mostly a shopping day these days. But the tradition includes bosses giving gifts to their employees. It's also a time for family and friends to gather and watch sports. Of course, you may want to serve your guests food, so here's a Vegetarian Boxing Day Buffet.
Kwanzaa is also on the 26th. It is a 7 day festival. Like Pancha Ganapat, it is a relatively new holiday (created in 1965 and first celebrated in 1966). You'll need an Mkeka, here's how to easily make one. Here's an interesting Kinara made of jars and tealights. It's rather beautiful, and seems easy to make. Corn is a major symbol of the holiday, and these corn husk vases can be easily made. Another symbol of importance is the Unity Cup. Here is how to make a poster showing the Seven Principles. If your kids are the crafty type, you could teach them to make a beaded Kwanzaa flag. And here are some more decorating ideas (including another Kinara, which uses traditional taper candles). Here is a list of Vegetarian takes on some traditional foods (including sweet potato and pecan pies, macaroni and cheese, fried "chicken", Jambalaya, and more). And at this site, you'll find more recipes (Vegan ones) and more information on Kwanzaa itself (for those who do not celebrate, but would like to learn more).
Zarathosht Diso doesn't have anything much in the way of celebrating, as it's a day of mourning and prayer. Again, if anyone has other information on customs, please feel free to comment and I will edit it in.
And we leave December with New Year's Eve (31rst December). Here are Martha Stewart's ideas on decorating. 32 sparkling decoration ideas. DIY New Years Eve Party Favors and Decorations 2015. Here's how to make 10 different hats and crowns for New Year's Eve. New Year's Eve just wouldn't be right without noisemakers. Here are 10 that you can make yourself (including horns and fringed type). And here's a nice idea for a treat-filled noisemaker! If you're having a party, you'll need some finger food. Here's a list of appetizers (some are Vegetarian, some include seafood). And if you're looking for Vegan finger foods, here you go! Here are 13 drink recipes that fit in with New Year's celebrating. Of course, when one thinks of New Year's Eve, Champagne comes right to mind. You can actually make it yourself, if you're the DIY type (though you can certainly buy a cheap sparkling wine...I do!). And finally, you're going to need this...Hangover cures. lol.
Happy Holidays, everyone!