Siddhartha Gautama, or the Buddha, was a prince in Nepal who was very shielded from the ills and challenges of life. Until one day, he was finally let out into the world and he saw much heartache and suffering, which distressed him deeply. He then left home to find the true meaning of life.

He spent a long time studying under a number of teachers. Finally, after much struggle, he was very weak from his asceticism. He sat down to rest under a bodhi tree, deep in meditation. It was then that he was enlightened, or came to see the world as it truly is. Bodhi Day celebrates and honors that enlightenment.

This day was the 8th day of the 12th lunar month. Much of the western world celebrates Bodhi Day on December 8th for this reason, but many other places celebrate it on a different day each year according to the lunar calendar. The next lunar Bodhi day is January 10, 2022.

To celebrate, families might visit a temple and participate in chanting. They might also have a quiet meal of rice & milk, the first meal offered Budda after he became enlightened. Some families may decorate a bodhi tree and perhaps place lights and Buddha figures around it. Other important aspects are meditation, doing kind acts for others, and studying the Dharma, or the Buddhist doctrine.