December Diversity

December 25, 1999

Source: Los Angeles Times

On December 25, 1999, the Los Angeles Times published an article on the crossing of Christmas traditions to different Christian and non-Christian faiths. In many Latin American countries, the Catholic celebration of Christmas includes las posadas, a nine-day series of festivities from December 16-24 that involves celebrants dressed up as Mary and Joseph in a procession followed by meals and activities. In Pico-Union, California, St. Thomas the Apostle Church, joined neighboring St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral for the second annual Latin-Greek posada. Rev. John S. Bakas, dean of St. Sophia Cathedral, stated: "The Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church share many similarities...This is about celebrating old traditions and creating new ones." The largely Spanish-speaking Echo Park United Methodist Church has also picked up the las posadas tradition, despite the resentment that many Latin Protestants have toward the Catholic Church. Rev. Frank Alton, senior pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian, spoke to the enmity between Catholics and Protestants in Latin countries: "While I respect and honor those feelings, I don't think that reality exists in the United States. I think we should use traditions like the posadas to break down the walls between denominations." Buddhist communities have also found a way to incorporate Christmas. In Long Beach, CA, the Thubten Dhargye Ling, a Tibetan Buddhist center, is sponsoring a ritual called "taking refuge," where participants will take vows of ethical behavior. Laura Brooke, an office manager with Thubten Dhargye Ling, stated: "Westerners are used to doing something special on Christmas, so those with a mind toward Buddhism can use the occasion to focus on what Christmas is all about: compassion, giving, and celebration." Followers of the late Indian spiritual teacher, Paramahansa Yogananda, honored Christmas with an all-day meditation to seek communion with Jesus and spiritual principles.