6 Holiday Traditions From Around the World

Christmas isn’t the only holiday celebrated in December. Let’s take a look at all the different holiday traditions from around the world.

1) Hanukkah

Almost as popular as Christmas, Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish celebration that commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem following the Maccabean Revolt. Even though there was only enough only to last a single day, the oil kept the candles lit for 8. Hanukkah begins on the 25th lasting for 8 days and is celebrated with the menorah which holds 8 candles. There is a 9th candle which is called shamash or the “helper candle.”

2) Festivus

Festivus is a secular holiday celebrated on December 23rd. A bit of a rebel, Festivus is celebrated in lieu of traditional Christmas which is often associated with capitalistic tendencies. Originally created by author Daniel O’Keefe, Festivus entered into pop culture after a 1997 Seinfeld episode. This non-commercial holiday is a form of playful consumer resistance.


3) Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday tradition. Celebrated December 26th-January 1st, Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense. During this holiday families and communities organize activities around Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles), Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). Those who celebrate do so with feasts, music, dance, poetry, narratives and end the holiday with a day dedicated to reflection and recommitment into The Seven Principles and other central cultural values.


4) Boxing Day

Celebrated in only a few countries on December 26th, Boxing Day is a public holiday in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, among other countries. It was first celebrated in the Middle Ages when the alms box or the collection box went around to collect food and goods for the less fortunate. It is celebrated differently in the countries that choose to participate. In Ireland, they refer to it as St. Stephens Day and young boys fasten a young wren to a pole and parade it through town. In the Bahamas, they celebrate with a street parade.

5) St. Lucia Day

December 13th is known as St. Lucia Day. Girls in Sweden dress up as Lucia brides. Their outfits are composed of long white gowns with red sashes, and a wreath of burning candles on their heads. They gently wake their families up by singing songs and offering them twisted saffron buns known as Lucia cats.

6) Three Kings Day

At the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas comes a day called the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This Day is celebrated as the day when the 3 wise men first saw the baby Jesus. This day is often celebrated with small presents or trinkets including coins, breads, and homemade gifts.

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Brook Phillips