I was asked a couple weeks ago whether Buddhists celebrate Thanksgiving, which seemed an odd question at the time but I have thought about it a little and I think the question (and others like it) are worthy of thought.
I think it is presumptuous for me to think that I can speak for all Buddhists, or even all Buddhists in America, by saying that Buddhists do, or do not, celebrate Thanksgiving (or other American or even Christian holidays, such as Christmas). All I can really say with any certainty is that I do.
Certainly my celebration, or “observation,” of these dates is a little different from the way another person might, but I do see qualities in these traditions which are wholesome and worthy of respect.
Do others Buddhists in America observe these holidays? Perhaps some do, such as myself, and others don’t, maybe because they are too alien to them. I can only imagine how strange and confusing Santa Claus must be to some who have come here from Asia (and lets be honest, who or what is the “real” object of worship to many Americans?).
As for the true meaning behind Christmas; the qualities of compassion, good will, and generosity are things I worship. Whether Jesus was the Son of God or a highly realized spiritual master matters very little to me, as I find him equally worthy of veneration either way.
I challenge you this Christmas to learn more about, and find the value in, others’ traditions and to honor and respect all of the great beings in our common spiritual ancestry.
May there be peace on the earth, good will to men. Please be well, my friends.