It’s that time of year again! The holiday season is upon us, so it’s time to start celebrating. There are countless ways to enjoy this festive time of year, from gift-giving and carolling to feasting and gathering with loved ones. So let’s take a look at some of the different holidays and traditions celebrated in December and see how people around the world are marking this special time.
One of the most well-known holidays in December is celebrated by millions of people worldwide. In many traditions, Christmas is a time for families to gather together, exchange gifts, and commemorate the birth of their Savior. Others have Santa Claus, who brings gifts and places them under the tree. Each country has its traditions that revolve around this time of year.
Here are some other Christmas traditions from around the world.
- In Ukraine, families decorate their trees with spiders and spider webs following an Eastern European folktale of a low-income family that had their tree decorated by a spider. It might be the origin of the Tinsel as a decoration for Christmas Trees!
- In Germany, many families celebrate Christmas with a traditional Advent calendar, which features 24 doors or windows that are opened each day leading up to Christmas. Christmas gifts are also opened up on Christmas Eve instead of morning. There was also a myth started by ornament salespeople that Germans decorate their trees with a Pickle every year. While we think this is a fantastic idea, people in Germany have yet to learn of any story relating to the Christmas Pickle.
- In Japan, Christmas is not a national holiday. Still, many people celebrate the season by enjoying a Christmas cake, which is typically a white sponge cake decorated with whipped cream and strawberries. Also, the most holiday meal at this time of year is Kentucky Fried Chicken, with an estimated 3.6 million families reserving their “Christmas” bucket up to 6 weeks in advance!
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday that begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev. During Hanukkah, families light candles on a special candelabra called a menorah, exchange gifts, play games, and eat delicious traditional foods such as Latkes (Potato Pancakes) or Sufganiyot (Donuts).
The lighting of the menorah commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem following the Maccabean Revolt. Those who participated in the re-dedication witnessed what they believed to be a miracle. Even though there was only enough untainted oil to keep the menorah’s candles burning for a single day, the flames continued to burn for eight nights.
Kwanzaa is a seven-day African-American holiday that begins on December 26th. Kwanzaa is a time for families to celebrate their African heritage and culture and reflect on unity, self-determination, and collective work and responsibility.
Dr. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 after the Watts riots in Los Angeles. He founded Us, a cultural organization, and started researching African “first fruit” (harvest) celebrations. From there, he combined aspects of several different harvest celebrations to form the basis of Kwanzaa. With many different cultures combined into one celebration, the variety of traditional foods served at Kwanzaa is terrific.
The one thread that connects all holiday traditions is kindness.
We hope these examples inspire you to learn more about the diverse and fascinating ways people celebrate the holiday season worldwide. Even though everyone celebrates the holidays with their traditions, the one thread that connects them all is the spirit of spreading kindness.
During the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in the search for the perfect gift to purchase for friends and loved ones. But sometimes, the most meaningful gifts are the ones that come from the heart and don’t cost anything but your kindness.