Winter Solstice: Short Day, Big Giving

As I’m writing this it is currently only 11 degrees out. For me, that means
that winter is definitely here. But according to the calendar, winter doesn’t officially start for a few more days. The winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, occurs on December 21.  In ancient times the Romans celebrated the festival of Saturnalia around this time. It is from this festival that the date for Christmas has evolved. The Romans celebrated this season as a season of light, and the birthday of the “Unconquerable Sun.”

Sounds familiar, huh? Much like our current holiday traditions, gift giving was a large part of Saturnalia. One practice during this celebration was that masters would serve their slaves. One of the many customs during the modern holiday season is giving year-end donations to charities.

As the cold sets in, days are short and we look towards the New Year; we all want to feel warm and fuzzy inside about the year that was. Giving year-end donations to non-profits is a great way to do this, and keep with the theme of the season of giving and/or Saturnalia (whatever floats your boat). Not only will you feel good about helping charitable organizations achieve their goals, but you also can help yourself in the way of a tax break. Non-profits will earn half of their next year’s revenue during the holiday season.  In 2011 the average deduction per tax return was $1201.

As the days continue to get shorter and the we inch closer to 2017, think about making a donation. If you need some inspiration here are several worthy causes.

The Salvation Army – You know them well from the red kettle and bell ringers you see out during this time of year. Their slogan “Doing the Most Good” isn’t just a saying. 82% of donations received go directly towards their programs.

– Looking to help others close to home during the holidays? Think about giving a year-end donation to the food bank and help them continue to fight hunger in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Make-A-Wish – There is nothing like a child’s amazement and joy during the holidays. Help give a little joy to an ill child and grant a wish.

What are some of your traditions this holiday season? Are you planning to make a year-end donation? If so what are some of your favorite charities?

No matter how you celebrate this time of year, stay warm, stay healthy, and enjoy your family and friends around you!

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