By Darci L. Graves, MA, MA, MPPHealth Power Editor on Spirituality, Culture and Health, and Aging
More than One Holiday Season

When we speak of the holidays, our minds often go to Thanksgiving and Christmas. These are the days that most typically remind us of the gifts ofour spiritual quilt. We wrap ourselves in faith, family and a season of giving.However these thoughts and actions don’t need to be limited to those cold weather months. Summer also offers a number of holidays and opportunities to celebrate, reflect, honor and share.

Freedom, Enlightenment, Reflection and Happiness

Holidays marking freedom, honor, enlightenment and happiness all weave their threads through the months of June, July and August. Secular, spiritual and religious days throughout the summer provide us with the opportunity to connect with nature as well as each other. We can all embrace the principles and values celebrated in each of these holidays, regardless of our spiritual or religious foundation.

So this summer while you are at your picnic, enjoying your family reunion, atthe poolside or on your family road trip, think about ways to weave in the elements of the summer holiday season. Fruit salad can be this season’s fruit cake. Instead of trimming a tree, take the opportunity to enjoy the shade provided by one. In the midst of your barbeque or picnic remember to reflect on all the spiritual elements of this holiday season… freedom, generosity, understanding and family.

Summer Holidays that Allow Us to Appreciate Their Common Threads 

Holiday

When in 2012

What does it mean?

Juneteenth

June 19th

Juneteenth is the oldest known holiday celebrating the end of slavery; Also called “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation day”
Summer Solstice

June 20th

Summer solstice marks the longest day of the year. Celebrating the solstice is a reminder of the importance of each day and honoring the season which has passed.
Asala – Dharma Day

July 3rd

Asala-Dharma Day is the anniversary of the beginning of Buddha’s teachings. It is an opportunity to reflect on the scriptures and what their content means for their enlightenment.
4th of July

 

July 4th

The 4th of July is the celebration marking the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which states: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Ramadan

July 19th – August 18th

Ramadan is the Muslim month of fasting. Ramadan is an opportunity for spiritual reflection, prayer, doing good deeds, charity, spending time with loved ones. It instills self-discipline, self-restraint, generosity and understanding.
Raksha Bandhan

August 2nd

“Raksha Bandhan” translates to mean a “thread for protection”. It is a festival which celebrates the relationships between sisters and brothers.
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

August 15th

The Assumption is largely a Roman Catholic festival celebrating their belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was taken body and soul into heaven.