December is a month filled with joy, celebration, and traditions all around the world. From Christmas to Hanukkah to Kwanzaa, there are countless holidays and festivities that bring people together and spread happiness. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most popular December global holidays and how they are celebrated. So, let’s get ready to celebrate December in all its glory!
Christmas: A Worldwide Celebration
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Christmas is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world, with over 160 countries recognizing it as a national holiday. It is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, but it has become a cultural phenomenon that is celebrated by people of all religions and backgrounds.
The holiday is typically celebrated on December 25th, but some countries have different dates for their celebrations. For example, in Russia, Christmas is celebrated on January 7th, while in Ethiopia, it is celebrated on January 6th.
Christmas is a time for family, friends, and giving. People decorate their homes with lights, Christmas trees, and other festive decorations. They exchange gifts, attend church services, and enjoy special holiday meals. In some countries, such as the Philippines, Christmas celebrations start as early as September and continue until January.
Christmas Traditions Around the World
Each country has its own unique traditions and customs for celebrating Christmas. Here are a few examples:
- In Germany, people decorate their Christmas trees with real candles and hide a pickle ornament in the tree. The first child to find the pickle on Christmas morning gets an extra gift.
- In Japan, Christmas is not a national holiday, but it is still celebrated by many people. Fried chicken from KFC has become a popular Christmas meal, and people also enjoy Christmas cake.
- In Norway, people hide their brooms on Christmas Eve to prevent witches and evil spirits from stealing them.
- In Australia, Christmas falls during the summer season, so people often have barbecues and go to the beach to celebrate.
Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights
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Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. It is celebrated for eight days and nights, starting on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, which usually falls in December.
The holiday is celebrated by lighting a special nine-branched menorah, with one candle being lit each night. Traditional foods, such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts), are also enjoyed during Hanukkah.
Hanukkah Traditions Around the World
While Hanukkah is primarily celebrated by Jewish communities, it has become more widely recognized and celebrated in many countries. Here are some unique Hanukkah traditions from around the world:
- In Israel, Hanukkah is celebrated with public menorah lightings, traditional foods, and special events. The holiday is also a time for giving to those in need.
- In Italy, people celebrate Hanukkah by eating fried artichokes and playing a traditional game called dreidel.
- In India, the Jewish community celebrates Hanukkah by lighting diyas (oil lamps) and exchanging gifts.
- In the United States, many cities hold public menorah lightings, and some families have adopted the tradition of giving gifts on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah.
Kwanzaa: A Celebration of African Heritage
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Kwanzaa 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, and is celebrated from December 26th to January 1st.
The holiday is based on seven principles, known as the Nguzo Saba, which include unity, self-determination, and creativity. Each day of Kwanzaa focuses on one of these principles, and families come together to light candles, share stories, and enjoy traditional foods.
Kwanzaa is primarily celebrated in the United States, but it has also gained recognition in other countries. Here are some traditions associated with Kwanzaa:
- On the first day of Kwanzaa, a special candle holder called a kinara is lit, and the black candle in the center is lit each night to represent the African people.
- On the sixth day of Kwanzaa, a feast called Karamu is held, where traditional African dishes are served, and families come together to celebrate.
- On the last day of Kwanzaa, gifts are exchanged, usually handmade or educational items that promote African heritage and culture.
Other December Holidays Around the World
While Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa are some of the most well-known December holidays, there are many others celebrated around the world. Here are a few examples:
- Boxing Day (December 26th) is a holiday celebrated in many countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. It originated as a day for giving gifts to the less fortunate, but it is now a day for shopping and spending time with family.
- St. Lucia Day (December 13th) is a holiday celebrated in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries. It honors St. Lucia, a Christian martyr, and is celebrated with processions, singing, and traditional foods.
- New Year’s Eve (December 31st) is celebrated in many countries around the world, often with fireworks, parties, and special events. In some countries, such as Spain and Mexico, it is traditional to eat 12 grapes at midnight for good luck in the new year.
Celebrate December: A Time for Joy and Togetherness
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No matter which holiday you celebrate in December, the month is a time for joy, togetherness, and spreading love and kindness. It is a time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the new one ahead.
So, whether you’re decorating a Christmas tree, lighting a menorah, or celebrating Kwanzaa with your family, take a moment to appreciate the beauty and diversity of the world and the many traditions that bring us all together. Happy holidays!