Winter is known as ‘the most fantastic time of the year’ worldwide. When we talk about the winter holidays, the first event that people bring up is Christmas.
However, some holidays aren’t Christmas but are equally popular around the world.
Different cultures celebrate different events during the winter holidays. Here are some of the winter holidays from the globe and how people celebrate them.
Hanukkah (Hebrew verb “חנך”: dedication) is the Jewish festival of health, love, happiness, and mainly the lights.
Also known as Chanukah, it is an eight-day celebration that starts on the 25th day of Kislev and primarily occurs in late November to December.
Families celebrate this holiday festival by lighting the Hanukkah Menorah or Hanukkiah, eating fried foods, and play dreidel games.
2. Lucia’s Day
Lucia’s day is famous as ‘Feast of Saint Lucy’ in Scandinavia and Sweden to reference Saint Lucy, a martyr and the earliest known Christian saint.
People celebrate St. Lucy’s Day on 13 Dec to remember the sacrifice of the virgin martyr.
Girls (usually the eldest) wear white dresses and red sashes around their waist and candles crown on their head.
Nine light candles in the candle crown represent ‘light in the dark,’ to bring warmth to people and dark winters.
Families prepare lussekatts (Swedish saffron buns), glögg (Mulled Wine), Pepparkakor (Ginger cookies), meatballs, and similar Lucia treats.
Feast of the Nativity or Christmas is a cultural and religious festive that people worldwide celebrate on 25 th Dec.
Families (Christian & Non-Christian) decorate their home spaces with wholesale christmas ornaments, lights, wreaths, garlands, etc.
People celebrate Christmas Eve by cooking a delicious feast, cookies, playing white elephant gift exchange game, and so much more.
Tió de Nadal or Caga Tió is a Christmas log tradition in Aragon and Catalonia that poops (yes, you read it right) presents on Christmas.
It is a 7-day celebration for African-Americans to honor their culture and heritage. Families light one candle each day in Kinara for a weeklong observance.
Kinara (Swahili word) is a candle holder with three red candles on the left, three greens on the right, and one black in the center.
The seven candles represent seven principles of African heritage (Nguzo Saba):
Unity, purpose, creativity, cooperative economics, collective work & responsibility, faith, and self-determination.
People celebrate Kwanzaa by gathering together, listening to music, sharing stories, discussing poetry and art, eating mouth-watering foods, etc.
Advent (Latin word: Coming) is a festive Christian celebration that starts before four weeks of Christmas to Christmas day.
Families celebrate the season by preparing Advent wreaths with advent candles, berries, pinecones, and holly.
Each Sunday for four weeks before Christmas day, people light one candle representing peace, hope, joy, and faith.
Some people fast during the Advent season to prepare for the birth of Jesus and Christmas’s real purpose.
Epiphany or Three King’s day is a feast day tradition on 6th January in the U.S. to celebrate three men’s visit (visit of the Magin) to Child Jesus.
Kids leave their shoes or shoe boxes beneath the bed or outside the door. Three wise men leave gifts and present to kid’s inside or near the shoes.
It is mainly a Catholic or Orthodox Christian tradition. Families remove their Christmas decorations on Epiphany Eve.
Those who could not remove their decorations on the twelfth night can then keep them until Candlemas (second chance to remove).
7. Fat Tuesday
Fat Tuesday (French: Mardi Gras) is the celebration after the Three King’s Day or at the beginning of the feast of Epiphany.
It is the final meal before Lent (Christian’s fasting month). People consume rich and fatty meals to prepare for religious observance.
Three kings’ cake is served on Fat Tuesday’s feast, and the person who receives the slice with the baby is the King or Queen of the night.
8. Feast Of Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas (Dutch: Sinterklaas) Day is a feast day of Nicholas of Bari on 6th December. He is an inspiration for the modern Santa Claus.
It is a celebration reference to the saint who brings gifts. Kids leave their shoes before going to sleep to get presents from Saint Nicholas.
St. Nicholas leaves candies, chocolates, traditional ginger spice cookies, nuts, oranges, small toys, books, fruits, coins, etc.
Kids receive a present under their pillows as a reward for their excellent behavior. Children with bad manners may find coal or twig.
9. Winter Solstice
Winter Solstice, Yule, Yalda Night, or Midwinter is when nights become shorter and days become longer. It is the darkest day of the year.
It is on 21st December, the shortest day of the year. Traditional celebrations of winter solstice include lighting and fire to brighten the day.
Other traditions include yule altar, wreath, yule log, nature-exchange-gifts, yule tree, meditation, and spending time with family.
It is a week-long (from 17th to 23rd December) Roman public festival in honor of the Saturn god. ‘Lo, Saturnalia’ is the traditional greeting.
It is a holiday to celebrate with family and friends. Romanians play games, sing, eat delicious foods, party, and give gifts.
Traditional gifts during Saturnalia include sigillaria, candles or lamps, sweets, candies, and pottery figurines.
People prepare honey buns, gingersnaps, cookies, paprenjak, tarts, and jam to serve at the Saturnalia feast.
11. Loi Krathong
Loi Krathong, or floating banana trunk festival, is a Thai celebration held during November to pay respect and gratitude to the Water goddess.
It is known as the Lantern Festival in China, Bon Om Touk in Cambodia, Tazaungdaing festival in Myanmar.
All the ladies wear traditional Thai clothes to celebrate Loi Krathong. People dance to Molam and enjoy cultural or funny shows.
A Krathong filled with folded banana leaves, incense sticks, flowers, candles, traditional Thai desserts or dishes is launched in water (river, lake).
12. New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve or the last day of the year (31st December) is a series of celebrations to welcome a new year.
People dance, enjoy music, party all night, eat snacks, see lighting and fireworks, and do a countdown to a new year together.
Cornbread, cakes, black-eyed peas, pig, long noodles, pork, fruits, lentils, greens, beans, fish, cornbread are some of the traditional foods eaten worldwide.
Emma Walker is a holiday enthusiast and an explorer who likes to travel and collect traditions and fashion trends from all around the world. She believes in the power of words. Her hobbies are reading books, studying the latest technologies and discoveries, and exploring festivals and fashion worldwide. Click here to read more about her favorites.