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Volusia County celebrates diversity



December is...

Universal Human Rights Month – During World War II there were four basic goals stated by the Allies, that every man and woman should know and experience four freedoms: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want. In December of 1948, the United Nations General Assembly put forth 30 articles that cover everything from rights to education, freedom, health, and more. International Human Rights Month is your opportunity to give a little back for the protections you enjoy as a citizen of the world.

Christmas – Christmas Day is celebrated by Christians as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating trees, attending church and sharing meals with family and friends. Christmas has been a federal holiday since 1870. Surprisingly, Christmas wasn’t embraced until the 19th century in America. In fact, Christmas, in its early inception, was a raucous, carnival celebration. Americans re-invented the holiday to be more family-oriented and a day of peace and nostalgia. Christmas was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681 due to the Puritanical idealism from England. After the American Revolution, English customs, like Christmas, actually fell out of favor, and so Christmas was not celebrated again until the 19th century.

Christmas came back in fashion because unemployment was high and gang riots often occurred during the Christmas season. The upper classes began to change the way that Christmas was celebrated in America, and a man named Washington Irving, who felt that Christmas should be a warm-hearted holiday, sketched stories of Christmas celebrations in England that helped shape Christmas into the holiday it is today.

Hanukkah - The eight-day Jewish celebration commemorating the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. According to legend, Jews rose up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors at the Second Temple in the Maccabean Revolt. Around 200 B.C.  Judea (Israel) came under the control of Antiochus III, the Seleucid king of Syria, who allowed the Jews who lived there to continue to practice their religion. His son, Antiochus IV Epiphanes outlawed the Jewish religion and ordered the Jews to worship Greek gods. In 168 B.C., his soldiers descended upon Jerusalem, massacring thousands of people and desecrating the city’s holy Second Temple by erecting an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs within its sacred walls.

Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons led a large-scale rebellion against Antiochus and the Seleucid monarchy. When Mattathias died in 166 B.C., his son Judah Maccabee took the helm and within two years the Jews had successfully driven the Syrians out of Jerusalem. Judah Maccabee and his followers cleansed the Second Temple, rebuilding its altar and lighting its menorah. Although there was only enough olive oil to keep the menorah burning for one day, the flames stayed lit for eight nights leaving them with plenty of time to find more. Each evening candles are lit on the “menorah” (candelabra), adding one candle each night. Hanukkah is a time for playing games and singing, for visiting and for giving gifts.

Remember to celebrate and appreciate the diversity that exists in this beautiful county where we live, work and play!

We celebrate Diversity.
We celebrate You!

happy holidays


December 2016 Calendar

Kwanzaa – Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, to bring together the African-American community after the Watts riots in Los Angeles. Dr. Karenga combined aspects of several different harvest celebrations to form Kwanzaa. The name is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. Taking place over seven nights, Kwanzaa consists of celebrations including songs, dances, poetry readings, storytelling and a large traditional meal. On each of the seven nights, a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder) and then one of the seven values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African-Americans. An African feast called a Karamu is held on December 31st.

The County of Volusia recognizes and celebrates December as Universal Human Rights Month, as well as, all other observances that are equally as important!

December 7
U.S. Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu by Japanese forces. More than 2,400 lives and much of our Pacific Fleet were lost. This day is observed in commemoration of the lives lost and honors those who served in the wake of that infamous day.

Rosa Park’s Day. Rosa Parks Day was created by the California State Legislature and first celebrated in 2000 to honor her work as a civil rights leader. The holiday was first designated in the state of Ohio by an advocate named Joyce Beatty who helped Ohio’s legislature pass the honor for the late civil rights leader. Rosa Parks was a seamstress and a secretary for the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. She was arrested for her refusal to move to the back of the bus for a Caucasian man who boarded the bus.

December 2
International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. December 2nd marks the date of the adoption of the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others. The focus of this day is on the eradication of contemporary forms of slavery, including human trafficking, child labor, sexual exploitation, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.


December 6
Saint Nicholas Day (Christian). Celebration of the birth of Saint Nicholas, patron saint of children and the role model for gift giving. Many churches are named for this saint who is also the Dutch version of Santa Claus. The American Santa Claus as well as the British Father Christmas, derived in part from Saint Nicholas and in part from the Dutch Sinterklaas, the saint’s name in that language.


December 8
Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Celebrated by Roman Catholics to commemorate the Virgin Mary’s conception as being without sin and therefore immaculate. There was argument in the church as to whether the Virgin Mary was sinless due to the doctrine of Original Sin. However, Blessed John Duns Scotus asserted that God had sanctified Mary at the moment of her conception in His foreknowledge that the Virgin Mary would agree to bear Christ.

Bodhi Day. Buddhists commemorate Siddhartha Gautama’s attainment of enlightenment under the Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya, India. Siddhartha Gautama was a sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. According to tradition, Siddhartha had recently forsaken years of extreme ascetic practices and resolved to sit under a peepal tree and simply meditate until he found the root of suffering, and how to liberate oneself from it.


December 9
International Day of Commemoration & Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide & of the Prevention of this Crime. This day was designated to raise awareness of the Genocide Convention and its role in preventing crimes of genocide, as well as commemorating and honoring its victims. Genocide is defined by the United Nations as a crime that is committed against members of a national, ethic, or religious group solely because they are members of that group, and entails the intent of exterminating that group.

International Anti-Corruption Day. On October 31, 2003, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption and has been observed annually, on 9 December, since the passage. Corruption is a complex social, political and economic phenomenon that affects all countries, and undermines democratic institutions, slows economic development, and contributes to governmental instability.


December 10
International Human Rights Day. Established by the United Nations in 1948, it commemorates the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The formal inception of Human Rights Day dates from 1950, after the Assembly passed a resolution inviting all States and interested organizations to adopt December 10th of each year as Human Rights Day. It was established to recommit to guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms and protecting the human rights of all.


December 12
Eid Milad UnNabi (Islam). Commemoration of the birthday of the Holy Prophet. This is the date most celebrated although it is celebrated on different dates in India and Pakistan. Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who are officially Wahhabi/Salafi and do not approve of unnecessary religious innovation, do not recognize this holiday. A festival is held on this date to commemorate the birth of Muhammad.

Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Day observed by catholic Christians commemorating the legendary appearance of the Virgin Mary near Mexico City in 1531 c.e. The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a man, and asked him to tell the bishop in Tenochtitlan that he had seen her and that she wanted there to be a church where people could experience her compassion. After seeing the bishop several times and being rejected, Juan went back to the Virgin Mary and she sent him with a sign to the bishop: a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary painted on the Tilma at the Cathedral.

Advent. Advent is a season of expectation and anticipation of Christ’s birth. In Spain and Gaul, Advent was a preparation of baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus, his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist and his first miracle at Cana. Originally, Christians would spend 40 days in penance, prayer and fasting to prepare for the celebration and there was very little connection between Advent and Christmas.


December 16-24
Las Posadas. Also known as Navidenas (Mexico-Christians), this festival includes processions and parties reenacting Joseph and Mary’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Each evening during the festival, a small child dressed as an angel leads a procession through the streets of the town. The procession is primarily made up of children dressed in silver and gold robes carrying lit candles and images of Mary and Joseph riding a donkey. Adults follow the procession and ask for lodging for Joseph and Mary. Traditionally, the procession is always refused lodging, though the hosts often provide refreshments. At each stop passages of scripture are read and Christmas carols are sung.


December 18
International Migrants Day.  The United Nations General Assembly declared December 18th as a day to celebrate the role of the migrant and the contribution that migration brings to development. UN Member States and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations observe the day through the dissemination of information on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, and through the sharing of experiences, and the design of actions to ensure their protection. In 2013 member states officially recognized the role of migration in terms of development and asked for further cooperation to overcome the challenges of irregular migration.

December 20
International Human Solidarity Day. The United Nations acknowledged solidarity as a fundamental and universal value in 2005. This international day is a reminder for how important it is to deal with global issues and challenges together. Solidarity is a basic tenet as far as treating each other as a family that acts together and aiding each other to feel as a community.

December 21
Winter Solstice. The first day of winter occurs on or around December 22 and is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The axial tilt of Earth and gyroscopic effects of its daily rotation mean that the two opposite points change very slowly, making a complete circle approximately every 26,000 years. As the Earth follows its orbit around the Sun, the polar hemisphere that faced away from the Sun, experiencing winter. The polar hemispheres face opposite directions, so one hemisphere experiences winter while the other hemisphere experiences summer.


December 24
Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve is the evening or entire day preceding Christmas Day, the festival commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Traditionally, a Midnight Mass is held to commemorate Jesus’ birth. The idea of Jesus being born at night is reflected in the fact is reflected in the fact that Christmas spiritually, such as the song “Silent Night, Holy Night.” Many other varying cultural traditions and experiences are also associated with Christmas Eve including the gathering of family and friends.


December 28
Holy Innocents Day. Christian day of solemn remembrance in honor of male children killed by King Herod in the attempt to destroy Jesus. These children were regarded by the early church as the first martyrs but it uncertain when the day was first kept as a saint’s day. In Rome, it was a day of fasting and mourning. This day is still observed as a feast day and, in Roman Catholic countries, as a day of merrymaking for children.


December 31
Watch Night (Christian). Watch Night is a late-night Christian service held on New Year’s Eve as on an opportunity for Christians to review the year that has passed and make confession, and then prepare for the year ahead by praying and resolving. The services often include singing, praying, exhorting, and preaching. Watch services were started by the founder of the Methodist church, John Wesley, in 1740 and were originally called Covenant Renewal Services. In the Church of Scotland, the Watch night service is a popular ceremony marking the beginning of Christmas Day.

New Year’s Eve.  In the Gregorian calendar, New Year’s Eve also known as Saint Sylvester’s Day or Old Year’s Day, is on the last day of the year: December 31st. New Year’s Eve is celebrated at evening social gatherings, where many people dance, eat, drink alcoholic beverages and watch or light fireworks. Samoa and parts of Kiribati are the first places to welcome the New Year while Baker Island in the United States is among the last.

Safe Toys and Gifts Month. In 2010 there were an estimated 251,700 toy-related injuries and toymakers recalled over 19 million toys worldwide due to issues such as lead paint and small magnets. December, due to the gift-giving holidays, was declared as Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month by Prevent Blindness America. During this month, it is encouraged that parents inspect all toys before purchasing, choose toys that may appeal to different senses such as sound, movement and texture for special needs children, and to make sure that toys have met the ATSM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards.  


Here are other topics of Health Awareness that are observed in the month of December:

December 1
World AIDS Day - This day has become an annual day of recognition of AIDS to: remember those who have died, acknowledge the need for continued commitment to care for those who are HIV/AIDS-positive, and to support the research to find a cure. More than 36 million people around the world are living with HIV, with 3 million of that being children.

December 3
International Day of Persons with Disabilities - Although December has not been designated a special heritage month, it does contain celebratory days that are recognized internationally. On December 10 in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The document set forth the basic civil standard of economic, political, and social rights that should be guaranteed to every person. Each December, the commitment to this universal document of rights is renewed and celebrated. In addition, the United Nations has established December 3 as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This international observance was established to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also aims to foster awareness of the importance of integrating persons with disabilities into every aspect of life.

December 1-7
Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week – This week has been designated to express appreciation to the family members and caregivers who support people in the United States living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, as well as the biomedical researchers and the healthcare professionals who care for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients. The Senate passed this designation on November 14, 2011.

International AIDS Awareness Month – International AIDS Awareness Month kicks off with World AIDS Day on December 1st. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection. One in five of the more than one million people living with HIV in the United States is unaware of his or her infection.

National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month – In an average year, 30 million Americans drive drunk and 10 million Americans drive impaired by illicit drugs. December is the perfect month for drinking and driving awareness due to the significant increase of traffic fatalities around New Year’s Eve and Christmas.  On average, 25 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes per day during December 2010, with young adults being those who are greatest at risk for driving impaired.

Take a New Year’s Resolution to Stop Smoking (TANYRSS) – Month designated to creating a plan to, or initiate the cessation of, smoking. The steps recommended for planning to quit smoking are to create a quit plan, look into medical support, mention your efforts to your doctor, and not to give up. It is estimated, according to the CDC, that about 68.9% of adult cigarette smokers want to stop smoking.

December 4-10, 2016
National Older Driver Safety Awareness Week – Established by the American Occupational Therapy Association establishes Older Driver Safety Awareness Week to promote the importance of older driver safety and mobility that helps ensure older adults remain active within their communities. During the week of observance, each day focuses on a different aspect of safety and mobility to benefit for aging population.

December 3
International Day of Persons with Disabilities - There are an estimated one billion people living with disabilities worldwide face many barriers to inclusion in many key aspects of society. The right to participate in public life is essential to create stable democracies, active citizenship and reduce inequalities in society. This day was made to empower people of all abilities.

December 6 - 12
National Influenza Vaccination Week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established National Influenza Vaccination Week in 2005 to highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination. Flu activity typically peaks in February in the United States, and the season can last as late as May.

December 4 – 10
National Handwashing Awareness Week – Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from the spread of infection and illness in all setting. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community. This week has been dedicated to spreading the awareness and education of handwashing in disease prevention. 

Tom Motes

Human Resources
Bank of America Building
230 N. Woodland Blvd.
Suite 262
DeLand, FL 32720

Office hours
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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