'Tis the Season: Part 1

By: Tamara Evans Email
By: Tamara Evans Email

Christianity is certainly the dominant religion in South Central Kentucky. In fact, it's the dominant religion in the world.

Recent statistics estimate that there are 2.1 billion Christians worldwide. The next closest is the Islamic religion, with 1.3 billion people. Judaism has about 14 million followers. The two largest religions are now becoming a bigger part of South Central Kentucky.

While Christians will soon be celebrating Christmas and the Jewish celebrating Hanukkah, Muslims have already celebrated their major holiday of the year.

The Islamic religion has two main holidays: the Ramadan, or Madan for short and Eid Al Fitr. The month long Ramadan depends on the lunar calendar and every year it falls 10 days earlier than the year before. This year the holiday fell between Sept. 23 and Oct. 22.

"Our holiday is not fixed like a Christmas; you know a certain day of the year. It's a fasting, so from dawn to dusk we don't eat anything. No drinking and no eating. You pretty much give up everything," said Mustafa Atici, a believer of the Islamic religion.

It's believed, the fasting brings people closer to God. Fasting is a way to redirect the heart away from worldly activities. Muslims believe it allows them to practice self-discipline, sacrifice and sympathy for those who are less fortunate.

Vilal Merdan leads those at the Islamic Center in Bowling Green, Ky., in prayer. He said that for the Ramadan, they celebrate at the Mosque several times during the week, with dinners after dusk and prayer.

"We are celebrating the breaking of the greatest month. The biggest chance for God's forgiveness and the biggest chance to obtain God's mercy," Merdan said.

The holiday Eid Al Fitr, which means "to break the fast,” comes the day after the Ramadan ends.

"The second one is basically symbolizing the biggest gathering on this earth and the gathering that will be in the hereafter," Merdan said.

While Ramadan represents the center of the Islamic faith, Hanukkah serves that role for the Jewish community.

Missi Carini is the president of the Am Shalom Congregation in Bowling Green. It's made up of nearly 25 Jewish families in the Bowling Green community.

The Am Shalom Congregation holds services once a month and also celebrates the holiday together. They are currently getting ready for Hanukkah, also called the "Festival of Lights."

It starts on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, which usually falls between late November and early January.

“Hanukkah is not a little Christmas or anything related to Christmas for starters. It is the rededication of the temple after it was destroyed," Carini said.

Carini said the temple in ancient Jerusalem had a candle that represented the eternal light from God. When the temple was destroyed a couple hundred years before Christ, there was only enough oil left for that eternal light to burn for one day.

Instead, it burned for eight. The Jewish celebrate this by lighting a menorah with eight candles and a new candle is lit every day for the eight days.

The Jewish also play a game called Dreidel, which has Hebrew letters on it that represent the words "a great miracle happened there."

"Besides playing the game and reading the stories and lighting the candle, one of the traditions is to cook things that are made in oil," Carini said.

Carini said typically, Hanukkah and Christmas overlap in days on the calendar, but this year that won't be the case.

"This year it starts Dec. 15, so it will be long over before Christmas Eve and Christmas Day," Carini said.

At this time of the year, when Christians are celebrating the Christmas season, it can be hard for those of other religions.

Coming up Thursday night in 'Tis the Season, we'll continue to take a closer look at these religions and how the Christmas holiday impacts their lives.

For more on Muslim, Jewish and Christian holidays, check out the links below:

Christian Holidays

Jewish Holidays

Islamic Holidays

WBKO 2727 Russellville Road Bowling Green, KY 42101-3976 Phone: 270-781-1313 After Hours Hotline: 270-781-6397 Fax: 270-781-1814
Copyright © 2002-2016 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 4843391 - wbko.com/a?a=4843391
Gray Television, Inc.