Holidays around the world in December



December is known as the “Month Of Holidays.” From Christmas to St. Lucia’s Day, December is a month full of cultural celebrations. 

Christmas (also known as St. Nicholas Day)  is one of the most well known celebrated holidays in the world. It began as a commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s not known exactly the exact day Jesus was born, but December 25  was christianized as “Day Of The Birth Of the Unconquered Sun” (Jesus)  which was originally a Roman winter holiday commemorating the Winter Solstice. Christmas today is now celebrated by 160 countries around the world. Traditions of Christmas as we know of developed through history. Christmas trees originated in Strasbourg in 1605, with fur trees being decorated with apples and later lights in 1611. The practice of giving gifts, goes back to the 15th century, and contributed to the view that Christmas was a secular holiday focused on family and friends. Today because of traditions emerging throughout history, Christmas is filled with activities. In America, we drink hot chocolate, do yankee swaps and put out cookies and milk for santa. But not every country does the same things as the US. In England, children put out mince pies and brandy for Santa. In Ireland children go to markets with 13 santas called Yule Lads, and in Italy they eat a traditional meal of 7 fishes! Although Christmas is celebrated the same day, traditions are different all across the world. 


 Omisoka occurs on December 31, it is Japanese New Years Eve. Omisoka is considered the second most important day in Japan. Its origin is misoka which is, “last of the month.” During traditional Omisoka in Japan, people eat foods such as Toshikoshi-soba (Soba or Udon noodles), Osouji, Toshinoyu and more. A bell as well is rung, ringing out the old year called Joya-no-kane. The bell is struck 108 times for every earthly desire believed to cause human sacrifice. 

Hanukkah also known as Chanukah is an 8 day celebration that commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Hanukkah occurs on the 25th of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar and revolves around lighting a Menorah. Each night during the 8 days a candle is lit after sunlight with a ninth candle called the shamash. During this usually recitings are said as well as gift giving. During Hanukkah most foods eaten are fried in oil such as latkes and jam filled donuts. One in fourteen Americans celebrate Hanukkah. 


The Dongzhi festival is celebrated in Chinese, starting in the Han Dynasty. It is a tradition honoring the Winter Solstice (the shortest day time and longest night time in the Northern Hemisphere.) It typically falls on December 21, 22 or 23. Some traditions that occur are praying and worshipping heaven and ancestors. As well as consuming dumplings, glutinous rice and tangyuan. 


St. Lucia Day is a holiday in Sweden on December 13. During this holiday children dress up as “Lucia Brides” with sashes and a wreath around their head. They wake up their families by singing songs and bringing them coffee and twisted saffron buns called “Lucia cats.” St. Lucia day started when a young girl named Lucia was killed for her faith in 304. It was said she would secretly bring food to persecuted christians in Rome and she wore a candle on her head so she could carry things in her 2 arms. Now kids celebrate and honor Lucia. They eat ginger snaps and sing a song:

 The night treads heavily

around yards and dwellings

In places unreached by sun,

the shadows brood

Into our dark house she comes,

bearing lighted candles,

Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.