Bodhi Day (Japanese: 成道会 or “Jōdō-e”), traditionally December 8th, is the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni or Siddhartha Gautauma, experienced enlightenment, also known as Bodhi in Sanskrit or Pali. According to tradition, Siddhartha had recently forsaken years of extreme ascetic practices and decided to sit under a Pipul tree and simply meditate until he found the root of suffering, and how to liberate one’s self from it.
Traditions vary on what happened. Some say he made a great vow to nirvana and Earth to find the root of suffering, or die trying. In other traditions, while meditating he was harassed and tempted by the Hindu god Mara, Lord of Illusion. Other traditions simply state that he entered deeper and deeper states of meditation, confronting the nature of the self.
Regardless, all traditions agree that as the Morning Star rose in the sky in the early morning, Siddhartha finally found the answers he sought and became Enlightened, and experienced Nirvana. Having done so, Siddhartha now became a Buddha or “Awakened One”.