The holiday season is upon us! That may make some of you want to run for cover and hibernate until the season has passed, but most of us enjoy holiday shenanigans. If you’re new to Peterborough, or if you’re attempting to avoid hibernating this year, you may be wondering where to get your holiday fix.

Your first step in getting your holiday on is deciding which kind of religion you want to affiliate with. Oh yes, there are more than just Christmas celebrations making the rounds in December. The two that rival Christmas in Peterborough (okay, they don’t even come close to rivaling Christmas here, but they’re next in line in terms of festivities) are Chanukah and Winter Solstice. Of course, if you’re a real holiday junkie, you could always take the agnostic route and celebrate festivities from a number of religions. Just don’t get your religious terms confused. You don’t want to be greeting people with “Merry Christmas” at a Chanukah event. Awkward!

Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a Jewish holiday celebrating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. This year, Chanukah runs from December 8 to 16. Traditions include the lighting of candles on a Menorah, singing songs, reciting prayer, playing the dreidel game (you know the song, “Oh, dreidel, dreidel, dreidel…”), and eating Chanukah foods, like latkes. Latkes are delicious pancakes of fried potato goodness. You might want to attend a Chanukah event just to get your hands on some.

Speaking of which, there will be an abundance of latkes at the Chanukah Dance Charity Event at the Beth Israel Synagogue on December 1 at 7pm. Why on December 1 and not during actual Chanukah? It was the only day the band was available. The proceeds will be donated to the Peterborough Communications Support Systems and the Peterborough Special Olympics. Entertainment will be provided by the Indian River Band (which is apparently in high demand) and in addition to all things Jewish (including a viewing of Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song), there will also be an Elvis tribute artist. I kid you not. Be warned that the combination of Elvis and latkes may make you want to convert to Judaism full time.

If paganism is more your style, you can celebrate the Winter Solstice. Also known as Yuletide, this holiday falls on December 21 and marks the shortest day (and therefore longest night) of the year. It is one of the eight Wiccan Sabbats and its traditions should seem very familiar to you as they were adopted by the Christians to make the pagans feel more comfortable with converting to Christianity. Things like yule logs (including those yummy, chocolate, log-shaped cakes), mistletoe, holly, wreaths, garlands, and even tree decorating are all parts of Winter Solstice celebrations. The Trent University pagan club, Roots, will be hosting a lecture about the history of Winter Solstice and a ritual sometime in early December. Details will be announced on their Facebook page, Roots — A Trent U Pagan Collective.

This Winter Solstice also marks the beginning of the new Mayan calendar. Here’s hoping that this will bring about a higher collective consciousness and not the end of the world or a zombie apocalypse (unless you’re into that sort of thing). If you feel like adding some positive vibes to the collective consciousness, the Zhii Healing Arts Studio will be hosting an open drum circle at 7pm on the day of the Solstice. The event welcomes people of all spiritual backgrounds and will last for approximately two hours. You can bring your own drum, but if you don’t have one there will be instruments available that you can make noise with.

The big shebang in Peterborough is Christmas and there is no shortage of Christmas events. The Festival of Trees kicks off with an official tree lighting at 6pm on November 27 in the Peterborough Square courtyard and has a series of events lasting until December 2. This includes the Forest Fantasy in Millenium Park. The cost for the Forest Fantasy is $5 (proceeds going to local charities) and gains you access to a maze of spectacularly decorated trees. Remember, the origin of the Christmas tree has pagan roots, so this could technically double as a pagan event. Although, I’m not sure how pagan you’ll feel with all the Christmas music that will be playing so, if you’re going to celebrate the pagan tree gods, bring earplugs to drown out the Christmas cheer. Unless you’re doing the agnostic thing, in which case you might as well bring along some latkes (because you can never eat too many latkes. They are soooooo good).

There will also be a Santa Claus Parade on December 1, in which yours truly will be participating. The parade starts at City Hall at 4:45pm. There will be dozens of floats and entertainment (including this Arthur reporter, dancing it up hip-hop style) and the big guy himself, Santa Claus. I’m sure the parade will be tons of fun, but I personally think it would be better if Santa Claus was doing the hip-hop routine, too.

There are so many Christmas events happening in Peterborough that there are too many to list. In a quick nutshell, Otonabee College is having a “Christmas Around the World” event on November 29. If you’re a Trent student, Otonabee is where it’s at for Christmas fun, including a gingerbread house decorating contest. Showplace is having a number of events, including “A Cozy Christmas” concert that will raise funds for teachers in Liberia. Market Hall is also getting into the gift giving spirit with “Toys for Tots Rock ‘n’ Christmas,” which will feature local artists like Beau Dixon. If you want information about more Christmas activities, just Google “Peterborough Christmas Events” and dozens of pages will come up. I promise.

Whether you want to spin a dreidel, light a yule log, decorate a tree, or do all three, holiday events in Peterborough should satisfy your cravings. Unless you become addicted to latkes, in which case you’ll just have to learn to make your own.

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When Jasmine was a child, she could almost always been found with a notebook and pen in hand, writing away. As an adult, she has written for a variety of magazines and websites, including the art magazine Juxtapoz. She was the 2010 winner of a blogging contest put on by the publishing house JournalStone. JournalStone also published two of her short fiction stories in their horror anthologies in 2010 and 2011. When she’s not writing, Jasmine spends a good chunk of her time completing her history degree and working as a professional dance performer and instructor.