December Global Holidays: All You Need to Know

As the year comes to a close, December is a month filled with celebrations and holidays around the world. From religious observances to cultural traditions, there are many reasons to celebrate in December. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most significant December global holidays and their origins.

Christmas

Christmas decorationsOne of the most widely celebrated holidays in December is Christmas, which commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. It is observed by Christians around the world on December 25th, although some Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate on January 7th.

During this holiday season, customs like adorning Christmas trees, sharing gifts, and participating in religious ceremonies are commonly observed. Many countries also have their own unique customs, such as the Feast of the Seven Fishes in Italy and the Yule Lads in Iceland.

Hanukkah

Hanukkah menorahHanukkah, referred to as the Festival of Lights, is a traditional Jewish holiday usually occurring in December. It is an eight-day celebration that commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt.

The holiday is marked by lighting a menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum, each night and reciting prayers. Traditional foods such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts) are also enjoyed during this time.

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa celebrationKwanzaa is a week-long celebration that honors African heritage and culture. It was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor of African studies, as a way to bring African Americans together and celebrate their shared history and traditions.

The holiday is observed from December 26th to January 1st and is marked by lighting a kinara (candle holder) and discussing the seven principles of Kwanzaa, known as the Nguzo Saba. Traditional African foods, such as jollof rice and fufu, are also enjoyed during this time.

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is a holiday that is celebrated in many countries around the world on December 26th. Its origins can be traced back to the Middle Ages when churches would open their collection boxes and distribute the contents to the poor.

Today, Boxing Day is often associated with shopping and sales, similar to Black Friday in the United States. In some countries, it is also a day for giving gifts to service workers, such as mail carriers and garbage collectors.

New Year’s Eve

New Year's Eve fireworksNew Year’s Eve is a holiday that is celebrated on the last day of the year, December 31st. It is a time for reflection on the past year and looking forward to the new one.

Many people celebrate by attending parties, watching fireworks displays, and counting down to midnight. In some countries, it is also a tradition to eat certain foods, such as black-eyed peas in the southern United States, for good luck in the new year.

Winter Solstice

Winter solstice celebrationThe winter solstice, also known as the shortest day of the year, falls on December 21st or 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere. It marks the official start of winter and is celebrated in many cultures around the world.

In ancient times, the winter solstice was seen as a time of rebirth and renewal, as the days would begin to get longer again. Today, it is often celebrated with festivals and rituals, such as lighting bonfires and decorating with evergreen plants.

Las Posadas

Las Posadas processionLas Posadas is a nine-day celebration that is observed in Mexico and other Latin American countries. It commemorates the journey of Mary and Joseph seeking accommodation in Bethlehem.

Each night, a procession is held where participants carry candles and sing Christmas carols. At the end of the procession, there is a party with traditional foods, such as tamales and ponche (a hot fruit punch).

St. Lucia Day

St. Lucia Day celebrationSt. Lucia Day is a holiday that is celebrated in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries on December 13th. It honors St. Lucia, a Christian martyr who is said to have brought food and aid to Christians hiding in the catacombs during the Roman Empire.

The holiday is marked by a procession led by a young girl wearing a white dress and a crown of candles on her head. Traditional foods, such as saffron buns and gingerbread cookies, are also enjoyed during this time.

Three Kings Day

Three Kings Day celebrationThree Kings Day, also known as Epiphany, is a Christian holiday that is celebrated on January 6th. It commemorates the arrival of the three wise men, or Magi, to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

In many countries, it is a day for gift-giving, similar to Christmas. In Spain and other Latin American countries, it is also a tradition to eat Rosca de Reyes, a sweet bread with a hidden figurine of baby Jesus inside.

Conclusion

December is a month filled with diverse and meaningful holidays around the world. From religious observances to cultural traditions, there are many reasons to celebrate and come together during this time of year. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other holiday, December is a time for reflection, gratitude, and spreading joy to those around us.

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