December is one of the most festive months of the year, with holidays celebrated around the world. Whether you’re looking to travel, learn about different cultures, or simply enjoy the holiday spirit, December has plenty to offer. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most popular global holidays in December and how they are celebrated.
Table of Contents
Christmas is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in December. It is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. The day is typically celebrated on December 25th, although some Orthodox churches celebrate on January 7th. In many countries, including the United States, Christmas is a public holiday.
Families often gather for a big feast on Christmas Day and exchange gifts. In some countries, it is traditional to attend church services on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Christmas is also associated with festive decorations such as Christmas trees, wreaths, and lights.
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that is celebrated for eight days in December. It commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabean Revolt. Hanukkah typically falls in November or December, depending on the Hebrew calendar.
During Hanukkah, families light a special menorah with nine candles – one for each night of the holiday, plus a “shamash” or helper candle. The menorah is placed in a prominent place in the home, such as a window. Each night, one additional candle is lit until all eight candles are lit on the final night. Traditional foods such as latkes and sufganiyot are also enjoyed during the holiday.
Kwanzaa is an African American holiday that celebrates African heritage and culture. It is observed from December 26th to January 1st. Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, a professor of African studies.
Each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to a different principle, such as unity, self-determination, and creativity. Families often light a kinara, a special candle holder with seven candles, and share a communal meal. Children may receive gifts, such as books or African art, that reflect the principles of the holiday.
Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated in the United Kingdom, Canada, and other Commonwealth countries on December 26th. The exact origin of the holiday is unclear, but it is believed to have originated in the Middle Ages as a day when the wealthy would give gifts to the poor.
Today, Boxing Day is often associated with shopping and sports. Many stores hold big sales, and sports events such as football and cricket matches are often held on the day.
New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve is celebrated around the world on December 31st. It is a time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the new one. Many people celebrate by attending parties, watching fireworks, or making resolutions for the new year.
In many countries, it is traditional to eat special foods on New Year’s Eve, such as grapes in Spain and lentils in Italy. In some cultures, it is also traditional to wear specific colors on New Year’s Eve, such as red in China and white in Brazil.
Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a Hindu holiday that is celebrated in late October or early November. It is a five-day festival that celebrates the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.
During Diwali, families light diyas or small oil lamps to symbolize the victory of light over darkness. They also decorate their homes with colorful rangolis, intricate designs made from colored powder or rice. Traditional sweets and snacks are also enjoyed during the festival.
Las Posadas is a Mexican holiday that is celebrated from December 16th to December 24th. It reenacts the journey of Mary and Joseph as they searched for a place to stay before the birth of Jesus.
During Las Posadas, families and friends gather to reenact the journey, with one group representing Mary and Joseph and another group representing the innkeepers who turned them away. They sing traditional songs and carry candles or lanterns as they walk from house to house, seeking shelter. At the end of the journey, a party is held with food and drink.
Saint Lucia Day
Saint Lucia Day is a holiday celebrated in Sweden, Norway, and Finland on December 13th. It honors Saint Lucia, a Christian martyr who was known for her kindness and compassion.
On Saint Lucia Day, a young girl is chosen to play the role of Saint Lucia, wearing a white robe and a crown of candles. She leads a procession of other girls, each carrying a candle, and sings traditional songs. The holiday is also associated with festive foods such as saffron buns and gingerbread cookies.
Day of the Dead
The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. It is a time to honor and remember loved ones who have passed away.
During the Day of the Dead, families create ofrendas or altars with photos, candles, and offerings such as food and drink. They also visit cemeteries to decorate graves and spend time with their loved ones. The holiday is a celebration of life and a way to keep the memories of loved ones alive.
Saint Nicholas Day
Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated in many countries on December 6th. It honors Saint Nicholas, a Christian saint known for his generosity and compassion.
On Saint Nicholas Day, children put out their shoes or stockings in the hopes of receiving small gifts or treats from Saint Nicholas. In some countries, Saint Nicholas is also associated with Christmas and may deliver gifts on that day as well.
December is a month full of global holidays that celebrate different cultures, religions, and traditions. From Christmas to Diwali to the Day of the Dead, there are many ways to celebrate and honor the season. Whether you choose to travel or celebrate at home, take the time to learn about and appreciate the diverse holidays and traditions that make this time of year so special.
What is the most widely celebrated holiday in December?
The most widely celebrated holiday in December is Christmas. It is celebrated by billions of people around the world, regardless of religion or culture. Christmas is a time for family, friends, and giving, and is often associated with the exchange of gifts, festive decorations, and delicious food.
What is the origin of Boxing Day?
Boxing Day is a holiday that is celebrated in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It is traditionally observed on December 26th, the day after Christmas, and is a time for giving to those in need.
The origin of the name “Boxing Day” is unclear, but it may have originated from the practice of giving boxes of gifts to tradespeople and servants on the day after Christmas. Another theory is that it may have originated from the practice of churches collecting money in boxes during the Christmas season to give to the poor.
What is the significance of the candles lit during Hanukkah?
The candles lit during Hanukkah are called the menorah, and they are symbolic of the miracle that occurred in the Jewish Temple over 2,000 years ago. According to tradition, a small amount of oil that was only enough to last for one day burned for eight days, allowing the Jewish people to rededicate the Temple and celebrate the miracle.
The menorah has nine branches, with one branch representing each of the eight nights of Hanukkah and the ninth branch representing the shamash or helper candle, which is used to light the other candles.
What is the meaning behind the traditional foods eaten during Kwanzaa?
Kwanzaa is a holiday that is celebrated in the United States and is rooted in African culture and traditions. During Kwanzaa, families come together to celebrate and honor their heritage, and traditional foods play an important role in the festivities.
Some of the traditional foods eaten during Kwanzaa include sweet potatoes, collard greens, black-eyed peas, and cornbread. These foods are often served as part of a communal meal called the karamu, which is held on the sixth night of Kwanzaa. The foods are chosen for their symbolic significance, such as the sweet potatoes representing the bounty of the earth and the black-eyed peas representing humility and strength.
What is the purpose of the ofrendas created during the Day of the Dead?
The ofrendas created during the Day of the Dead are altars that are set up to honor and remember loved ones who have passed away. The ofrendas are typically decorated with photos of the deceased, candles, flowers, and offerings such as food and drink.
The purpose of the ofrendas is to welcome the spirits of the deceased back to the world of the living and to show them that they are still loved and remembered. The food and drink offerings are meant to sustain the spirits during their journey and to help them reconnect with their loved ones.