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In Judaism, the anniversary of the death of an immediate family member, marked by the lighting of a yahrzeit candle that burns for 24 hours.

Filed in Judaism


Pronounced “YAH-way.” An English translation of the four Hebrew letters usually transliterated as YHWH that form the name of God. Jews do not attempt to pronounce this name, as they believe that would risk taking the name of God in vain. Wherever it appears in Scripture, they say “the Lord” (“Adonai”) instead, and a vowel marking beneath the four consonants renders the word unpronounceable in Hebrew. Sixteenth-century Protestants attempted to transliterate this word, resulting in “Jehovah.”

Filed in Christianity, Judaism, Protestantism, Religion and culture


Pronounced “YAH-mi-kuh.” Yiddish name for the skullcap traditionally worn by Jewish men in synagogue, and by some Jews at all times. It is a symbol of humility and submission to God. It is sometimes also referred to by its Hebrew name, kippa, which means “dome.”

Filed in Judaism


A symbol from Chinese philosophies such as Taoism and Confucianism representing two forces continually interacting in humans and in the universe; balance between the two is ideal. Yin is the darker, female, passive force; yang is the lighter, male, active force.

Filed in Confucianism, Taoism


Most often associated with body poses, stretching exercises and breathing techniques developed in India. It is a Sanskrit term that means union; yoga is a discipline found in Hinduism. It is the philosophy, process, disciplines, and practices whose purpose is the unification of individual consciousness with transcendent or divine consciousness. One of its eight “limbs” is referred to as asana (also known as “hatha yoga”) and involves various body postures meant to keep the body physically relaxed and healthy as an important prerequisite for meditation.

Filed in Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism


A Mahayana Buddhist school whose followers practice yoga and meditation and whose focus is the teaching of shunyata (emptiness).

Filed in Buddhism

Yom Hashoah

The Hebrew words for Holocaust Remembrance Day, which commemorates the victims of the Holocaust and takes place on the 27th day of the month of Nisan in the Jewish calendar. It falls in spring, though the day shifts on the U.S. calendar. The U.S. Congress asked the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, which it created in 1980, to lead the nation in civic observances. It is a national memorial day in Israel, and U.S. observances generally take place from the Sunday before to the Sunday after the actual day.

Filed in Judaism

Yom Kippur

Pronounced “yohm ki-POOR.” The Jewish Day of Atonement, which takes place on the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishri — September or October of the Gregorian calendar. Yom Kippur is marked by spending the day in prayer; forgoing food, drink and work; and repenting for misdeeds of the past year. See Jewish holidays.

Filed in Judaism


An ancient name for the Northern European pre-Christian celebration also known as Midwinter (see Ásatrú). The word is etymologically related to Jólnir, a name for the Norse god Odin, who was particularly venerated at this sacrificial feast (see blót). After Northern Europe’s conversion to Christianity, the name of the heathen feast came to refer to the Christmas celebration. Nowadays, the terms Yule and Yuletide are most often associated with the season marking Jesus’ birth.

Filed in Christianity, Other faiths

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