Guide to December Global Holidays
Each year there are at least 68 significant religious holidays honoured around the world. You’ve presumably heard of some of them: Christmas, Diwali, Ramadan, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah, just to name a few. According to data gathered by religion researchers, there are around 4,200 belief practices in the world today, so these 68 holidays barely scratch the surface of world religion.
Plus, cultural celebrations are a completely different ballgame, so adding those to the list just shows how wildly diverse and rich the world is.
It’s no secret that December is one of the most festive months of the year. Many religious, cultural, corporate, and international events are held during this month.
Most of us associate December with Global holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve. However, did you know that apart from these two holidays, various others are celebrated worldwide? If you don’t but would like to learn more, this post for you. In this post, we’ll take you through different holidays celebrated in other parts of the world in December. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
We start our list of December Global holidays with Christmas, which is celebrated on December 25th. It’s the holiday that marks the birth of the messiah of Christianity – Jesus Christ. The celebrations that Christians take part in on this special day vary across the globe. For instance, in England and the United States of America, people indulge in celebratory rituals such as decorating their homes with Christmas trees, exchanging gifts, and family dinners.
However, Christmas celebrations in Australia, which experiences summer when December 25th comes around, are all about people going out for camping trips and heading to the beaches. In Iceland, the winter landscape is similar to parts of the USA and England. However, instead of one Santa, kids in Iceland are treated to thirteen Santas, collectively known as the Yule Lads.
New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve is celebrated worldwide to bid goodbye to the year that was and usher in the next. While this December holiday isn’t a religious holiday, people in many parts of the world celebrate it by visiting their respective places of worship and thanking God for making it through another year.
Across most places throughout the world, the New Year’s Eve celebrations start on the evening of December 31st, when friends and family get together. The celebrations last long into the night, with the peak coming exactly when the clock strikes 12 – signalling the end of one year and the beginning of another.
Also known as Chanukah, this Jewish celebration is an eight-day affair and is observed not just in Israel but across various Jewish communities worldwide. The festival commemorates the re-dedication of Jerusalem’s Second Temple and is observed to typically starts on November 28th and end on December 6th. However, the dates may vary depending on the day on the Gregorian calendar that coincides with the 25th day of Kislev (a month on the Hebrew calendar).
The Jewish fraternity typically celebrates this festival by lighting candles and singing songs on all eight evenings. The songs sung are mostly religious and include the Hallel prayer along with Ma’oz Tzur. Eating jam-filled donuts, potato pancakes, and other oil-dried foods is also customary during this festival. Many people also exchange gifts and play with dreidels to celebrate.
Holiday of Santa Lucia is celebrated mainly in Italy and across Scandinavia on December 13th every year. The holiday is meant to be a tribute to an Italian saint, Santa Lucia, who is remembered for her martyrdom. The holiday in her commemoration symbolizes light during life’s darkest hours.
Celebrations taking place across Italy and Scandinavia typically feature numerous processions and atmospheric concerts. Across these processions and concerts, singers perform wearing white clothes and headdresses that feature flickering candles.
Kwanzaa is a holiday that lasts from December 26th – January 1st and celebrates in the United States to preserve African values. The holiday is a creation of Dr. Maulana Karenga and was first observed in the aftermath of the 1965 Watts riots in and around Los Angeles. The riots saw white Americans clashing with black African-Americans. The name Kwanzaa was chosen from ‘matunda ya kwanza’ – a Swahili phrase that means ‘the first fruits.’
Traditional African dances and songs are commonly performed by people celebrating Kwanzaa. Other everyday activities include public discussions on African culture’s principles, poetry reading, and storytelling. Every day, the activities and celebrations typically conclude with a large meal consisting of traditional African food. The enormous feast, known as Karamu, coincides with New Year’s Eve.
World AIDS Day
Thomas Netter and James W. Bunn conceived of World AIDS Day in August 1987. Both Bunn and Netter worked for the WHO’s Global Programme on AIDS as public information officers. It was on December 1, the following year, that World AIDS Day was commemorated for the first time.
In addition to spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS, World AIDS Day honours those infected or affected by the disease. Observing the day involves visiting destitute children, promoting safe-sex campaigns, and lobbying governments to increase efforts to stop the spread of HIV.
Date: December 21st to January 1st
The Pagan celebration called Yule takes place on the day of the winter solstice, around December 21 in the northern hemisphere (below the equator, the winter solstice falls around June 21). On that day, an astonishing thing happens in the sky. The earth’s axis tilts away from the sun in the Northern Hemisphere, and the sun reaches its greatest distance from the equatorial plane.
Did You Know?
- Traditional practices such as the Yule log, the finished tree, and wassailing can all be traced back to the Norse people, who called this festival Jul.
- The Romans marked Saturnalia beginning on Dec. 17, a week-long festival in honour of the god Saturn, that required sacrifices, gift-giving, and feasting.
- In ancient Egypt, the return of Ra, the sun god, was celebrated, as a way of thanking him for warming the land and the crops.
Three Kings Day/Epiphany
Date: January 6th
Known as Epiphany or Theophany, Three Kings Day is a Christian feast day that commemorates the revelation of God in his Son as human in Jesus Christ. The practise had its origins in the Eastern Christian churches and was a general celebration of the manifestation of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. It added the commemoration of his birth; the visit of the Magi, all of Jesus’ childhood events, his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist, and even the miracle at the wedding at Cana in Galilee.
While this holiday happens a bit before the rest, Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, is a five-day-long Hindu holiday honouring the life and the victory of good over evil. Taking place in October or November, each day of Diwali has a different legend it celebrates, but the holiday is filled with fireworks, feasts and family. The date of Diwali is determined based on the Hindu lunisolar calendar.
Here Is a List of all the Holidays and Global Celebrations in December
- National Pie Day
- National Eat a Red Apple Day
- Bifocals at the Monitor Liberation Day
- Day With(out) Art Day
- Rosa Parks Day
- National Package Protection Day – Wednesday after Thanksgiving
- National Fritters Day
- National Mutt Day
- Special Education Day
- National Roof Over Your Head Day
- Faux Fur Friday – First Friday in December
- National Bartender Day – First Friday in December
- National Cookie Day
- Dice Day
- National Sock Day
- National Rhubarb Vodka Day – First Saturday in December
- Skywarn Recognition Day – First Saturday in December
- National Sacher Torte Day
- Bathtub Party Day
- International Ninja Day
- National Repeal Day
- National Pawnbrokers Day
- Microwave Oven Day
- National Gazpacho Day
- St. Nicholas Day
- Miners’ Day
- National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
- Illinois Day
- National Cotton Candy Day
- World Trick Shot Day – First Tuesday in December
- National Brownie Day
- Pretend To Be A Time Traveler Day
- National Pastry Day
- Weary Willie Day
- Christmas Card Day
- Dewey Decimal System Day
- National Lager Day
- Human Rights Day
- Nobel Prize Day
- National Salesperson Day – Second Friday in December
- Chanukah Begins – Changes Annually (December 10, 2020
- National App Day
- Noodle Ring Day
- National Ambrosia Day
- National Ding-a-Ling Day
- Gingerbread House Day
- Poinsettia Day
- National Cocoa Day
- Violin Day
- National Day of the Horse (Senate Res. 452)
- Pick A Pathologist Pal Day
- National Guard Birthday
- Bouillabaisse Day
- National Alabama Day
- Monkey Day
- National Cupcake Day
- Bill of Rights Day
- Cat Herders Day
- National Wear Your Pearls Day
- National Chocolate-covered Anything Day
- Barbie and Barney Backlash Day
- National Maple Syrup Day
- Wright Brothers Day
- National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day – Third Friday in December
- Underdog Day– Third Friday in December
- National Twin Day
- National Roast Suckling Pig Day
- Answer The Telephone Like Buddy The Elf Day
- National Wreaths Across America Day – Changes Annually – December 18, 2021
- Hard Candy Day
- National Oatmeal Muffin Day
- National Sangria Day
- Mudd Day
- Crossword Puzzle Day
- Humbug Day
- National Maine Day
- Phileas Fogg Win A Wager Day
- Winter Solstice – Day Between December 20 and 23
- National Flashlight Day – Day of Winter Solstice
- French Fried Shrimp Day
- National Homeless Persons’ Remembrance Day – First Day of Winter
- Yule – Day of Winter Solstice
- Anne & Samantha Day(also June. 20, 2020)
- National Date Nut Bread Day
- Forefathers Day – December 22 (Unless on Sunday, Then Following Monday)
- National Pfeffernusse Day
- National Roots Day
- National Re-Gifting Day – Thursday before Christmas
- National Eggnog Day
- Christmas Eve
- National Pumpkin Pie Day
- A’Phabet Day or No “L” Day
- National Candy Cane Day
- Thank-you Note Day
- National Whiner’s Day
- Boxing Day (Canada)
- National Fruitcake Day
- National Short Film Day
- Chocolate Candy Day
- National Card Playing Day
- Holy Innocents Day
- Pledge of Allegiance Day
- National Pepper Pot Day
- Tick Tock Day
- National Bicarbonate of Soda Day
- Falling Needles Family Fest Day
- Bacon Day
- National Champagne Day
- No Interruptions Day – Last Work Day of the Year
- Leap Second Time Adjustment Day(Note: This is listed as an observance title only. Some years scientists do not make adjustments. But, if they do, then it’s done on either June 30 or December 31.)
- Make Up Your Mind Day
- New Years Eve
- Universal Hour of Peace