A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Shuang Jiang (霜降, Frost’s Descent). Start of the eighteenth of the twenty-four traditional Chinese solar terms, the last solar term of Autumn before Winter officially arrives across China. The sun reaches the celestial longitude of 210°, there is a large change in temperature between day and night, the weather becomes colder and the moisture in the air begins to turn to frost. The Autumn harvest comes to a close and all the year’s hard work finally sees its rewards. The customs of appreciating chrysanthemum flowers and climbing mountains continue, duck is roasted, persimmons, chestnuts, pears and apples are eaten, the Chinese word for apple sounding like píng (peace, calm) and so an apple is seen as a wish for peace. Dogwood (cornel) is planted and legend has it that Jesus Christ was crucified on a dogwood cross, the blooms of the dogwood tree each consisting of four bracts in a cross shape. In the Tai-speaking Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in Southern China, the people offer sacrifices, dance and sing folk songs, a tradition that started over 360 years ago to commemorate Cen Yuyin, a heroine in battles against foreign aggression. The next solar term is Li Dong (The Beginning of Winter), which starts on 7 November. The twenty-four solar terms permit the insertion of leap (intercalary) months in the Chinese calendar to ensure synchronisation with the seasons. Image: yenyguo.blogspot.com.
Prayer Mortals seeing an Autumn meteor shower take advantage of the light to make a wish and we pray that it will come true. Even though the full moon may be in the sky, this custom is somewhat charming and so we silently make our wishes on those shooting stars from the depths of our hearts, praying that we shall soon be able to achieve true freedom. Amen
Mawlid an-Nabawi (The Birthday of The Prophet (peace be upon him), المولد النبوي, Eid-e-Milad un-Nabi, Havliye, Donba, Gani). Shi’a annual celebration of the birth of Muhammad (pbuh), the Prophet of Islam, on 16 Rabi’ al-Awwal (رَبِيع ٱلْأَوَّل), the third month in the Islamic lunar calendar, which means the first month or beginning of spring from its position in the pre-Islamic Arabian calendar. According to the western calendar, He was born around 570 CE and died on June 8, 632. Holidays depend on sighting the Moon’s crescent after New Moon and depend on clear skies and other factors, so the exact date of Muslim holidays cannot be predicted with certainty. Also, as the Moon is not visible in all regions at the same time and the day varies between countries, each holiday can fall on different dates according to a country’s longitude and time zone. Some Muslims may thus celebrate a day earlier than others. Celebrations include Hamd (حمد, praising Allah (God)), Tasbih (تَسْبِيح, glorification of Allah), fasting, public processions, Na`at (religious poetry), family and other social gatherings with parents telling children of the Prophet’s life and His importance as founder of the Islamic faith, and the decoration of streets and homes. The Sunni, Ibadi Muslim celebration is four days earlier but members of the Wahhabi, Salafi, Deobandi and Ahmadiyya Muslim communities do not celebrate Mawlid an-Nabawi. Whilst it can have an openly celebratory character, it is believed that this day marks not only the birth but also the death of the Prophet, although the exact date of the birth is unknown. In that, the holiday is similar to Christmas, which is observed on December 25 although it is not known when Jesus was actually born. In Kerela, Miladi Sherif (Barah Wafat) celebrations extend to twelve days from 12 Rabi’ al-Awwal, with lectures arranged where Muslim Ulemas (scholars) deliver religious sermons and share information about the life of the Prophet. The celebrations include giving away food to the poor and other charitable activities arranged by individual Muslim communities. Image: wikiwand.com.
St James the Just (d62). Episcopal Church (USA) and Eastern Orthodox commemoration and Lutheran Lesser Festival for the martyred brother of Jesus. James was for many years the leader of the Christian congregation in Jerusalem and he is generally supposed to be the author of the Epistle of James, although the Epistle itself does not state this explicitly. When a council met in Jerusalem to consider what rules Gentile Christians should be required to keep, James formulated the final consensus. He is mentioned in the New Testament and there are numerous references in early Christian documents, showing the esteem in which he was held in the early Church. The Jewish historian Josephus, who calls him the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, reports that James was much respected, even by the Pharisees, for his piety and strict observance of the Law, but that his enemies worked against him during an interval between Roman governors. There appear to be at least three people named James in the New Testament, and possibly as many as eight. James the Just’s death in Jerusalem was reported by the Second-Century Christian writer Hegesippus. In 2002 a stone box (ossuary) bearing the inscription in Aramaic: “James (Jacob), son of Joseph, brother of Jesus (Joshua)” was discovered in Jerusalem and, between 20 BCE and 70 CE, the Jews were accustomed to put a corpse in a tomb for a few months until only the skeleton was left and then place the bones in an ossuary as a permanent receptacle. The box is about 20 inches long and 11 inches wide and experts date it to c63 CE and definitely before 70 CE. Three theories about the relation of James to Jesus have been popular: some Protestants have held that James was the son of Mary and Joseph, younger than Jesus; some Christians, especially in the East, have held that Joseph was a widower when he married Mary, and that James was his son by his former wife; and some Christians, especially in the West, have held that James was a nephew of Mary or of Joseph and hence reckoned a cousin of Jesus. The ossuary inscription may be consistent with the first two, but not the third. Venerated in all Christian denominations. Eastern Orthodox Feast Day 26 December, Anglican 1 May, Catholic 3 May. Image: en.wikipedia.org.