As the last few months of 2023 trickle away, we reach what can be described as the craziest time of the year. But it’s not just all about Christmas. Worldwide there are more than 50 different celebrations that take place all across the world during this time.
Some of these celebrations are religious, and others are cultural. But every single one stands unique in its own way. So, let’s take a deeper look at some of these magical holidays that will be taking place during this holiday season.
Winter Holidays From Around the World
As we just mentioned, there is a lot going on during these few months. However, we wanted to introduce you to some of the bigger holidays that are celebrated all across the globe.
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that lasts for eight days. They light a special candleholder called a menorah in remembrance of a miracle where one day’s worth of oil burned for eight days in the temple. Many Jews celebrate Hanukkah by making latkes, singing songs, and spinning a top known as a dreidel to win small treats like chocolate coins.
Kwanzaa is an African celebration that means “First Fruits.” During Kwanzaa, the celebration promotes concepts such as family unity and togetherness. Each family celebrates Kwanzaa in its own way, but celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. However, many African Americans dress in traditional clothing, decorate their houses with fruits and vegetables, and light a kinara during this religious holiday, which is observed from December 26 to January 1.
Three Kings Day
Three Kings Day is a holiday that celebrates the day the three wise men first saw baby Jesus and brought him gifts, and it happens at the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Different areas of the world have their own traditions on this holiday. For example, in Spain, many children get their Christmas presents on this day. However, in Puerto Rico, on January 5th, children will leave a box of hay under their beds for the kings to leave presents. Furthermore, in France, they bake a delicious cake with a hidden surprise inside called a King cake.
Boxing Day is a European holiday that takes place on December 26. Only a few countries celebrate this holiday which originated during the Middle Ages. It was, according to tradition, the day when alms boxes and collection plates for the poor, which were frequently kept in churches, were opened and their contents distributed. It was also the day when servants received a day off to spend Christmas with their families.
Among many other things, this is one of the biggest celebrations for pagans and druids who follow an earth-based religion. The solstice happens every year on December 21st, the shortest day of the year, but festivities around it can happen up to 6 days before or 6 days after that date.
St. Lucia Day
On December 13, many Swedish girls dress up as “Lucia brides” in long white gowns with red sashes and a burning candle wreath on their heads. This is to commemorate this third-century saint, St. Lucia. They wake their families by singing songs and offering them coffee with twisted saffron buns called “Lucia cats.”
St. Nicholas Day
St. Nicholas Day, also known as St. Nicholas Day or Sinterklaas Dag in the Netherlands, Belgium, and some other countries, is a popular December holiday in many European nations. St. Nicholas of Myra was the individual whose life inspired the tradition of Santa Claus and Father Christmas. He was famous for his concern for children, gift-giving, and kindness.
People all across the world celebrate this Christian holiday by going to church, giving gifts, and sharing the day with their families. In certain parts of Europe, “star singers” go caroling while walking behind a large star on a pole.
However, Ireland tends to celebrate Christmas a bit differently. These festivities tend to be more religious in nature rather than being about gifts. Christmas lasts from Christmas Eve to January 6 (Epiphany). Furthermore, on December 26, popularly known as St. Stephen’s Day, the Wren Boys Procession occurs in Ireland. Children will go house to house singing with a stick topped with holly and a wren. Requesting money for the “starving wrens.”
Ōmisoka, or New Year’s Eve, is the second-most important day in Japanese culture. It is the last day of the old year and the eve of New Year’s Day, which is the most significant date. Families come together for one final time in the old year to enjoy a bowl of Toshikoshi-soba or Toshikoshi-udon, a noodle dish. This is a tradition based on eating long noodles to cross over from one year to the next. At midnight, many families visit shrines or temples.
Why Holidays Are Important
Holidays can be a magical time for many people. However, no matter what you choose to celebrate, it can be a wonderful way to uplift your spirits. Holidays are important for many reasons, which include the following:
- They give people an opportunity to rest.
- They can be something that people look forward to months in advance.
- They allow families and friends to enjoy one another’s company.
- Many holidays come with traditional food, which is obviously delicious!
Fun Celebrations From Around the World
While these aren’t considered to be “holidays,” they are still something fun to celebrate. You may even find yourself a new tradition.
This is a fun thing that many men (and women!) participate in during the month of November. It began as a 30-day challenge for men to not shave their facial hair to raise awareness for cancer. However, it has grown since then, and people are making it their own. So feel free to ignore your razor for November.
The Festival of Lights, better known as Diwali, is a Hindu holiday that is observed throughout India. The five-day event occurs on the 15th day of Kartik in the Hindu calendar, which falls between October and November. Celebrants light clay lamps, which are said to symbolize the destruction of anything bad in one’s life,
Día de Los Muertos
The Mexican holiday of Día de Los Muertos, commonly known as Day of the Dead, is celebrated on November 1 and 2. While many people associate it with Halloween, it is a celebration of family members who have passed away, commemorated with costumes, music and dance, food, parades, and devotions to departed loved ones.
During the Lohri festival, which takes place on Jan. 13 in Northern India, people celebrate the end of winter. The celebrations consist of building huge bonfires and throwing sweets and sesame seeds into them until the fire goes out while singing and dancing, and youngsters go house to house singing.
Bon Om Touk
The Bon Om Touk, or Cambodian Water Festival, is held in November on the full moon of the Buddhist month of Kreuk. It marks the annual reversal of the Tonle Sap Lake’s outflow into the Mekong River.
No matter what holidays or traditions you choose to celebrate, holidays from around the world are a great way to enjoy these cold winter months. Furthermore, remember, you’re holiday is yours to celebrate. There are no right or wrong ways to celebrate.
Happy Holidays from Barking Buddha. Wishing you a happy and safe holiday season. Make sure to subscribe to our blog for a year of fun ways to spoil your dog.