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5 Special Occasions

Over the years we’ve been a part of many different religious celebrations. Here are 5 special days and what they mean.


bat mitzvah/ bar mitzvah

This Jewish celebration signifies the coming of age of children to adulthood. When a young girl turns 12 they celebrate her “bat mitzvah” and when a young boy turns 13 they celebrate his “bar mitzvah”. Prior to reaching bar/bat mitzvah age, the child’s parents hold the responsibility for the child’s actions and behaviour. After this age, the boys and girls are responsible for their own actions and behaviour especially with regard to Jewish ritual law, tradition, and ethics, and are able to participate in all areas of Jewish community life.

Bar mitzvah celebrations typically include a seudat mitzvah, a celebratory meal with family, friends, and members of the community. A bar/ bat mitzvah is a hugely significant event for all Jewish families. The celebrations include wonderful food and lots of dancing.



Christmas is an annual Christian celebration observed on the 25th of December. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Christmas is celebrated with a feast amongst families and friends. The meal is either enjoyed on Christmas Eve or lunch on Christmas Day.

Christmas is also associated with gift giving. People wrap gifts for each other and place them under a tree to be opened together on Christmas morning.


New Year

There are a multitude of New Year dates celebrated during the year. Each religion observes different dates during the year and celebrates the end of their calendar year gone by and the potential and excitement of the new year ahead.

Some of the New Year’s observed include…

– Christian New Year – 1st of January
– Jewish New Year/ Rosh Hashanah – observed in Early Spring in the Southern Hemisphere
– Chinese New Year – The first day of the New Year falls on the new moon between 21 January and 20 February
– Muslim New Year – The first day of the year is observed on the first day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar (Between September to December)


Mendhi and Haldi Ceremony

The Mendhi and Haldi ceremony precedes a HHHH jdsjfhindu wedding ceremony. Mehndi (henna painting) is one of the sixteen adornments of the bride. Mehndi ceremonies are organised by the bride’s family and friends and usually takes place just before marriage. The venues are decked with lots of flowers and bright coloured drapery creating a beautiful venue for the bride. The Mendhi ceremony involves a henna artist applying beautiful designs and pattern in henna to the bride’s hands and feet.

The Haldi ceremony is attended by the bride and the groom in separate venues with their respective families. The ceremony gets its name from the application of haldi or turmeric paste that is made by mixing turmeric, sandalwood powder and rose water to form a fragrant mixture that is applied liberally on the body. The family apply this paste on the hands, feet, arms, legs and face of the bride and the groom and bless them as they gear up for their big day. The event is replete with lots of music, fun and tasty food before the madness of the wedding festivities begin!


Eid-ul-Fitr (Eid of Fast-Breaking)

Eid-ul-Fitr is an Islamic holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. Ramadan is the name given to the 9th month of the Islam calendar and is known as the month of fasting. Muslims observe fasting between dawn and sunset. During Ramadan family and friends meet together in the evenings to share in small meals whereby they strengthen relationships and worship together. Ramadan ends with a celebratory event of Eid-ul-Fitr. Fitr means “to break the fast” and therefore symbolizes the breaking of the fasting period. On the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, which is the first day of the month of Shawwal, a typical Muslim family wakes up early and attends morning prayer and then enjoys a breakfast together which symbolises the end the fasting month of Ramadan.

Many Muslims dress in fancy traditional clothes early in the morning and then head to special prayers held only on this occasion in mosques or in large open areas, stadiums or arenas. The prayer is generally a short one and is then followed by a sermon (Khutba). All attendants embrace each other and wish each other peace, love and prosperity. Festivities then follow that involve visiting the homes of relatives and friends and sharing in food.

On Eid ul-Fitr, Muslims celebrate the achievement of enhanced piety. It is a day of forgiveness, moral victory, brotherhood, fellowship, and unity. Muslims celebrate not only the end of fasting, but they also thank God for the strength He gave them throughout the month of Ramadan to help them practice self-control. It is a time of giving and sharing.