in

9 Most Popular December Global Holidays and Their Symbolism

christmas-market-at-town-hall-square-in-the-old

Last Updated on June 7, 2021

December is unquestionably the most festive month of the year. The month is marked by all manner of events and festivals around the world, including religious, cultural, and even corporate events.

This article explores the top eight most iconic December global holidays and their symbolism.

1. Hannukah

Hannukah holiday

Date Marked: November 28 – December 6

Category: Religious

Why It’s Marked: Commemorating the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem

Where It’s Marked: Israel and various Jewish communities around the world

Also known as Chanukah or the Festival of Lights, Hannukah is an 8-day Jewish festival that traditionally begins on the 25th day of the month of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar. There are usually variations on the exact day that Hannukah begins each year according to the Gregorian calendar. This year, the festival falls between November 28 and December 6.

Hannukah is a period to celebrate the re-dedication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem after the Maccabean Revolt. The celebrations include lighting of candles every night throughout the eight days. Hannukah is also marked by the singing of special songs, such as Ma’oz Tzur, as well as reciting of the Hallel prayer. Other popular Hannukah customs include eating oil-dried foods such as potato pancakes (also known as latkes) and jam-filled donuts (also known as sufganiyot). Celebrants also play with dreidels and exchange gifts.

2. World AIDS Day

World aids day awareness month

Date Marked: December 1

Category: Health

Why It’s Marked: To raise awareness on the scourge of HIV/AIDS

Where It’s Marked: Worldwide

The idea of World AIDS Day was first conceived by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter in August 1987. At the time, Bunn and Netter were working as public information officers for the World Health Organization’s Global Programme on AIDS. The following year, the first World AIDS Day was marked on December 1, which has remained the holiday’s official date.

World AIDS Day is dedicated to raising awareness to the spread of HIV/AIDS as well as commemorating those who are infected or affected by the disease. There are numerous ways to commemorate the day, including visiting destitute children orphaned by the disease, sponsoring safe-sex campaigns, and lobbying governments to ramp up efforts to curb the spread of HIV.

3. Santa Lucia

A girl in Swedish costume celebrating Santa Lucia day

Date Marked: December 13

Category: Religious

Why It’s Marked: To pay tribute to Lucia of Syracuse.

Where It’s Marked: Scandinavia and in Italy

Santa Lucia was an Italian Saint that died as a martyr. She is seen as a figure of light in the darkest part of the year. Santa Lucia is remembered and celebrated each December 13th in Sweden as a symbol of light and hope. This important day is marked by atmospheric concerts and processions, featuring singers clad in white and wearing headdresses featuring actual flickering candles. 

4. Yule

Yule Holiday

Date Marked: December 21 – January 1

Category: Pagan

Why It’s Marked: To pay tribute to the Norse god Odin

Where It’s Marked: Germany and various German communities around the world

Yule, also called Yuletide, is a festival marked by Germanic people around the world. The festival has pagan roots and can be traced back to the Norse god Odin as well as the Anglo-Saxon festival of Modraniht. Yuletide technically falls within the Winter Solstice, making it one of the oldest and most popular winter celebrations in the world.

Ancient people marked Yule by lighting a huge log in a bonfire and spending the long night outdoors. Although the custom of log burning is still practiced today, most people also mark this occasion by building a Yule altar, making an evergreen Yule wreath, or giving back to Mother Nature. Candlelit dinners and Yule tree decorations are also common, as are exchanging of nature-based gifts.

5. Festivus

Festivus

Date Marked: December 23

Category: Parody

Why It’s Marked: To advocate against Christmas consumerism

Where It’s Marked: Worldwide, particularly in the United States

Festivus is a December global holiday that entered popular culture in 1997, courtesy of an episode on the Seinfeld show titled “The Strike.” The objective of this parody holiday is to speak out against Christmas consumerism. As opposed to purchasing expensive Christmas tree, Festivus is marked by standing around a plain aluminum pole. Other popular Festivus customs include “feats of strength” and “airing of grievances.”

Some pundits have lashed out at Festivus enthusiasts terming them as anti-conventional people with unreasonable views about Christmas and its true meaning. However, the holiday has continued to grow in popularity, especially among frugal spenders and minimalism advocates.

6. Christmas

Date Marked: December 25

Category: Religious

Why It’s Marked: To commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ

Where It’s Marked: Worldwide

Christmas is unarguably the most popular December holiday. The day marks the birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom Christians believe to be the last true prophet sent by God to save humanity from sin. What sets Christmas apart from most religious festivals is that the day is generally celebrated even by non-Christians.

However, it’s worth noting that the actual date of Jesus’ birth is unknown. Christmas was picked simply due to its correspondence with winter solstice in the Roman calendar. Also, Christmas is celebrated in various countries as a cultural as opposed to a religious event. There are numerous ways to mark the occasion, including leaving gifts for Santa Claus or Father Christmas. Many people also attend Church services on Christmas day, with some opting to go on an all-out vacation.

7. Boxing Day

Date Marked: December 26

Category: General

Why It’s Marked: Symbolism varies

Where It’s Marked: Worldwide

Opinion has always been divided on how Boxing Day came into being and how best to celebrate it. Some people believe that this was the official day when churches gifted alms boxes to the poor after Christmas. Others consider Boxing Day as the day to gift errand boys, postmen, and various kinds of servants, in appreciation for their service throughout the year.

Regardless of its symbolism, Boxing Day remains one of the most iconic December holidays. The date has since been declared a public holiday in numerous countries around the world, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. In these countries, Boxing Day is typically marked by organizing sporting events.

8. Kwanzaa

Happy Kwanzaa, African-American cultural celebration in the US

Date Marked: December 26 – January 1

Category: Cultural

Why It’s Marked: To preserve certain African values

Where It’s Marked: Worldwide, particularly in the United States

Kwanzaa is a December holiday rooted in African history and celebrated mainly in the United States. The day was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga and first observed in 1966 following the Watts riots in Los Angeles, California. The word ‘kwanzaa’ is a loose translation of the Swahili word ‘kwanza,’ which means ‘first.’ In this case, the name comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “the first fruits.”

Kwanzaa is often celebrated with traditional African songs and dances. There’s also storytelling, poetry reading, and discussing various principle values of the African culture. These events usually culminate in a large traditional meal at the end of each day and a mega feast called ‘Karamu’ on December 31.

9. New Year’s Eve

Friends celebrating new years eve

Date Marked: December 31

Category: General

Why It’s Marked: To mark the end of the year

Where It’s Marked: Worldwide

The last December holiday on this list also happens to fall on the very last day of the month. The purpose of New Year’s Eve is to mark the end of the old year as well as usher in the incoming year.

There are numerous ways to observe this day. Most religious people visit their places of worship to thank God for the blessings of another year. Other people observe New Year’s Eve in pubs, restaurants, and other social gatherings. The celebrations usually peak at midnight, where shouts of joy, songs, and fireworks rent the air.

The Bottom Line

Evidently, there’s a wide collection of December global holidays to help you wind up the year in style.

Remember, December isn’t just a month to treat yourself to the finer things in life. It’s also the perfect season to appreciate those who’ve truly made the ending year worth living by showering them with befitting gifts.

Therefore, it’s prudent to prepare yourself adequately for this season by saving enough money for it.

Tags: 19 december is celebrated as 2020 holidays worldwide 2021 december holidays 2021 holidays 2022 holidays worldwide a list of pagan holidays african american holiday celebrated in december african holidays in december all christmas holidays all holidays around christmas all holidays celebrated in december all holidays in december all holidays in the world all holidays in winter all religious holidays in december all the different holidays in december all winter holidays all winter holidays around the world annual celebrations around the world around the world calendar beautiful holidays around the world best festivals in december best holiday traditions around the world best holidays around the world biggest christmas celebrations in the world biggest holidays in the world calendar december holidays celebration food from around the world celebrations around the world celebrations around the world calendar celebrations around the world calendar 2020 celebrations around the world calendar 2021 celebrations of light around the world christmas celebrations around the world christmas eve around the world christmas holidays christmas holidays around the world christmas holidays around the world list christmas holidays celebrated around the world christmas holidays in different countries christmas holidays in other countries christmas international holiday christmas is a special day christmas is more than a day in december cultural events around the world 2020 cultural holiday traditions around the world cultural holidays 2020 cultural holidays around the world cultural holidays in december culture holidays 2020 darkest of times brilliant event days in the month of december dec 11 holiday dec 7th holiday dec holidays december december 10 holiday december 10 special day december 11 holiday december 13 holiday december 2015 holidays and observances december 2020 calendar holidays december 2020 holidays december 2020 holidays and special days december 21 holiday december 26 holiday december 26 is holiday december 5 holiday december 5 holiday usa december 5th holiday december 7 candles december 7 holiday december around the world december celebrations december celebrations around the world december christmas holidays december events and holidays december global december global festivities december global festivities 18 december global holidays december hoildays december holiday traditions december holidays december holidays 2020 december holidays around the world december holidays around the world 2017 december holidays around the world 2018 december holidays around the world 2020 december holidays international december holidays other than christmas december january holidays december month festival december religious holidays 2020 december religious holidays and observances december traditions around the world different celebrations around the world different christmas celebrations in the world different christmas holidays around the world different days celebrated in the world different december holidays around the world different festivals celebrated around the world different holidays around the world different holidays celebrated in december different holidays in december different winter holidays around the world do non christian countries celebrate christmas events celebrated around the world every religious holiday in december fall and winter holidays around the world famous celebrations around the world famous festivals and celebrations around the world famous international holidays feasts and festivals around the world festivals and celebrations around the world calendar festivals celebrated around the world festivals in december foreign holidays in december global holiday calendar global holidays global holidays 2020 global holidays in december global holidays in november global holidays singapore hanukkah celebrations around the world hanukkah in january hanukkah traditions around the world holiday celebrations around the world holiday days in december holiday feasts around the world holiday from december 26 to january 1 holiday on december 10 holiday season around the world holiday traditions around the world in december holiday with 7 candles holidays all over the world holidays and celebrations in december holidays and festivals around the world holidays around christmas holidays around december 25th holidays around the world holidays around the world in december 2019 holidays around the world sweden holidays around the world today holidays around the world traditions holidays before christmas holidays celebrated all around the world holidays celebrated during december holidays celebrated in december holidays celebrated in december around the world holidays celebrated on december 25th holidays celebrated worldwide holidays december 2020 holidays in december 2020 holidays in december and january holidays in december other than christmas holidays in different countries holidays in november and december holidays on december 21 holidays other than christmas in december how do christians around the world celebrate christmas how is christmas celebrated around the world how is hanukkah celebrated around the world how many countries around the world celebrate christmas how many holidays are in december how many holidays are in the world how many holidays are there in the world how many religious holidays are celebrated in december how many religious holidays are there in december important days in december month important festivals around the world in december or on december international calendar celebrations international celebration days 2020 international holidays 2020 international holidays in december international holidays in november 2020 international holidays this week international january holidays international religious festivals international religious holidays 2020 is christmas a religious festival is christmas celebrated worldwide is december 7 a holiday is december 7th a holiday is hanukkah a pagan holiday is hanukkah pagan january holidays around the world jewish holiday celebrated in december kfc carolling commercial krampus barcelona krampusnacht 2020 krampusnacht holiday krampusnacht traditions list december holidays list of all holidays around the world list of all religious holidays in december list of december holidays list of festivals and celebrations around the world list of holidays around the world list of holidays celebrated around the world list of holidays celebrated in december list of international holidays around the world list of religious festivals around the world list of winter holidays list of world holidays long list of december holidays and special days major holidays in december major international holidays major religious holidays in iceland major world holidays may holidays around the world most celebrated holidays in the world most holidays in the world most popular holidays around the world national holidays in december non christian holidays in december non christmas holidays in december november 11 holidays around the world november and december holidays around the world november holidays global november holidays international other celebrations around christmas time other christmas holidays other festivals around christmas other holidays around christmas other holidays near christmas other holidays on december 25 pagan holiday calendar 2015 pagan holiday calendar 2020 pagan holidays 2020 pagan holidays 2020 dates pagan holidays in december religious celebrations around the world religious celebrations during december religious days in december religious festivals around the world religious festivals around the world calendar religious holiday after christmas religious holidays celebrated in december religious holidays in december religious holidays in december 2015 religious holidays in december 2020 religious holidays in sweden religious holidays in turkey 2020 special celebrations around the world special days in december 2020 st lucia calendar holidays 2020 st lucy feast boston there are holidays all around the world time of day around the world top 20 holidays in the world top 20 most celebrated holidays in the world top celebrated holidays top celebrations around the world unique events around the world unusual december holidays unusual holidays around the world what are all of the holidays in december what are all the holidays in the world what are some holidays in december what are the religious holidays in december what countries is kwanzaa celebrated in what country does not celebrate christmas in december what day is yule 2020 what does christmas look like around the world what holiday is celebrated from december 26 to january 1 what holiday is in december what holidays are around christmas what holidays are celebrated in december what holidays are celebrated in december around the world what holidays are celebrated worldwide what holidays are in december what holidays are in the month of december what holidays are in winter what is celebrated in december what is the most celebrated holiday what is the most celebrated holiday in the world what is the most popular holiday in the world what month is christmas what other christmas holidays are there what religious holidays are in december when is christmas celebrated around the world when is december holidays which jewish festival takes place in december this year who celebrates yule from 21st december in scandinavia who sings around the world why are holidays celebrated why are there so many holidays in december why is christmas celebrated in december why is christmas in december winter celebrations around the world winter holiday celebrations around the world winter holidays 2020 winter holidays around the world winter holidays around the world activities winter holidays in december winter holidays in other countries winter religious holidays winter solstice festivals around the world winter solstice traditions around the world world celebrations world celebrations in january world festivals 2020 world holiday celebrations world holidays 2021 world holidays celebrated in december world holidays in december world wide holidays in july world winter holidays worldwide celebrations worldwide holiday dates worldwide holidays xmas world 2020 year end holidays around the world