December is the month that brings many feasts and happenings with it. Do you want to learn a short history about December and what this month is known for, and what the December global holidays are? From Christmas to the beginning of a new year, December is one of the busiest months of the year. This month is all about eating delicious cakes and relaxing as much as you can. It is also a sign in many countries that rain, snow, and cold weather are about to start. This month is also associated with numerous events and big days.
The last month of the year is always filled with multicultural celebrations and events. Several countries celebrate their own festivals and important dates in the month of December. However, only a few of them are recognized as global holidays. Here we discuss the top December global holidays along with their designated day and significance. You will also find the historical importance of the December global holidays in this article.
A little history of December
From the Latin word “Decem,” December had gotten its name. This month was originally called the tenth month of the year back in 750 BC. At that time, March was the first month of the year. January and February were added to the calendar year after many years later. The place of every month got changed because of that, but December stays the same, which is at the end.
Every day of December is attached to some holidays celebrated around the world. Like on December 11, Sol Indiges was held back in Ancient Rome. Similarly, Dies Natalis was held this month on holiday December 13 in the temple of Tellus. Moreover, Divalia, Opiconsivia, and Larentalia were also held this month. On December 20th Holiday, Abolition of Slavery Day was also celebrated back in the day. December brings the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, which is the shortest day of the year. From the cheerful festivals to delicious cookies, December is filled with joy and happiness in different regions of the world.
List of All December Global Holidays
December was famous for its comprehensive list of events and celebrations that occurred during it all across the world. This month was given the name December because it was the tenth month of the early Roman calendar. During Roman times, there were only ten months on the calendar.
Let us take a look at the different December global holidays and find out their significance.
- World AIDS day
- Feast of Immaculate Conception
- Santa Lucia
- Saint Stephen’s Day
- New Year Eve
- St. Nicholas Day
- Bodhi Day
- Human Rights Day
- Winter solstice
- International Human Solidarity Day
- Boxing Day
Hanukkah is popularly known as the festival of lights and is one of the most important December global holidays. This Jewish festival is celebrated to commemorate the recovery of Jerusalem and the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabean Revolt. It is said that the people who took part in the rededication of the Second Temple witnessed a miracle. At that time, there was not enough untainted oil to keep the menorah’s candles burning for more than one day. However, the flames continued to burn for almost eight nights.
This festival of lights begins on the 25th of Kislev, according to the Hebrew calendar. During this festival, people light the menorah. On all eight nights of the holiday, another candle gets added to the menorah after sundown. In this festival, the ninth candle is known as the shamash, which means helper. This candle is used to light other candles. Aside from lighting the candles, blessings are also recited during this festival.
There is also a tradition of preparing Hanukkah foods such as jam-filled donuts (sufganiyot) and potato pancakes (latkes) fried in oil. Other popular Hanukkah customs are exchanging gifts and playing with a dreidel. Here are some more important points about the festival of Hanukkah.
- Other names: Hanukkah, Chanuka, Chanukah, and Chanukkah.
- Starting date: 28th November
- Ends at: 6th December
- Place of celebration: Jerusalem, Israel
World AIDS day
Celebrated on December 1, AIDS Day is one of the December global holidays. This international day has been celebrated since 1988. This day is celebrated to raise awareness of the disease AIDS which is caused by HIV infection and to show support for those suffering from AIDS. Another purpose of celebrating World AIDS day is to remember the people who have lost their lives to AIDS. The government also encourages people from all over the world to get tested for HIV if any symptoms appear and confirm their reports.
On this day, people also promote prevention guidelines and messages and discuss different ways to reduce the risk of spreading HIV. Aside from this, World AIDS Day is also an opportunity for HIV-affected people to share their survival stories and experiences with the world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed eleven important dates as the official global public health campaigns, and World AIDS Day is one of them. Every year World AIDS Day has a different theme.
In 2021 the theme for the World AIDS Day for the UN was “End inequalities. End AIDS. End pandemics,” while that for the US was “Ending the HIV Epidemic: Equitable Access, Everyone’s Voice.” Here are some other necessary things about World AIDS Day.
- Celebrated on: 1 December
- Observed by: All member states of the UN.
Feast of Immaculate Conception
This festival is celebrated as a day to pay tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Feast of Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8 to celebrate the sinless lifespan. It is believed that God gave Mary to Catholics as their mother, and Catholics celebrate Mary’s birthday on December 8th every year. Catholics believe that Mary was God chose Mary as Jesus’s mother because she was pure and saintly without any sin. Catholics celebrate this day by going to church to pray. They make a special prayer called a “novena,” which is said to thank and ask for her help and is said nine times in a row.
The Feast of Immaculate Conception is celebrated to highlight the special place of our lady in salvation history. Many people believe that the Immaculate Conception was the beginning of our salvation. This festival encourages people to do their best and remain free from sin. During this festival, people light candles to honor Mary. This day is considered one of the most important Marian feasts in the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. During the feast of immaculate conception, people display grand fireworks, religious and military processions, perform cultural themed dances, and prepare delicious foods. Here is some more info about the feast of the immaculate conception:
- Celebration date: December 8
- Celebrated by: Roman Catholic Church
- Place of celebration: United States, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Brazil, and many other catholic states.
In Swedish custom, Santa Lucia is a festival that begins the Christmas season. This popular Swedish festival is celebrated every year on December 13. Santa Lucia is one of the most popular December global holidays and is celebrated to pay homage to the appearance of a bright star in the sky. It is believed that the appearance of the bright star in the sky led the three Kings to Bethlehem to visit newborn baby Jesus.
During the festival of Santa Lucia, people give gift baskets to children which contain traditional Santa Lucia Day items such as cookies, candles, and fruits. Aside from the distribution of gift baskets, many people also sing Christmas carols on this occasion. People also wear a wreath of candles on their heads on this day. It is believed that Saint Lucia used to help Christians and bring them food. Santa Lucia used to help people who were poorly treated during times of oppression.
According to the legends, during the time of a great famine, a ship with a maiden in white clothes and crowned with light appeared on the shore in Varmland. This maiden was known as Lucia, and she distributed food and clothes to the people who needed them. Here are some other important facts about the festival of Santa Lucia.
- Date of celebration: December 13
- Place of Celebration: Sweden and Norway
- Observed by: Roman Catholics
The festival of Yule is considered one of the most romantic holidays in the month of December. During this festival, people ignite a large log in a bonfire and spend the night outside their house with their loved ones. This festival is also synonymous with Christmas and is considered one of the oldest and major December global holidays. This festival of joy and happiness is celebrated from December 21 to January 1. This indigenous winter festival is often connected to the wild hunt, the god Odin, and the Anglo-Saxon Mother’s Night.
In different languages such as Finnish, Estonian, and Scandinavian, the word “yule” is used to describe the festivals that occur in December. On this day, people burn fire, spend the night sitting around it and give their loved ones some beautiful gifts. People also enjoy candlelight dinners with their loved ones outside their homes. Many people decorate the Yule trees with beautiful decorative items like lights. Here is some more info about the festival of Yule.
- Date of Celebration: From December 21 to January 1
- Celebrated by: Germanic people, Neopagans, and Northern Europeans
Festivus is a unique holiday that came into life from the 1997 Seinfeld episode “The Strike.” In this episode, a character Frank Costanza explains the tradition of Festivus, which was invented by him as an alternative festival to Christmas. He called Festivus “a festival for the rest of us.” This festival was inspired by a similar invention of the holiday by author Daniel O’Keefe, a Seinfeld writer and story editor who was the co-writer of “The Strike.” The author took elements from the unique traditions in his family and discussed the ideas from other Seinfeld writers.
The purpose of this holiday is to celebrate a festival without any pressures and commercialism of the Christmas holiday season. Many people consider Festivus as a parody festival, while some consider it a playful consumer resistance. The episode “The Strike” from “Seinfeld” was first broadcast on December 18, 1997. Some of the popular practices during this festival include Festivus dinner, Festivus pole, airing of grievances, Festivus miracles, and feats of strength.
Some people believe this celebration preaches wrong about Christmas and its importance. On this day, those who believe in this festival celebrate it in a grand way while those who don’t stay indoors. Here are some more facts about Festivus.
- Date of celebration: 23rd December
- Festival category: Parody
- Place of celebration: the United States and all over the world.
According to the Christian faith, Christmas has historical importance as it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Many people celebrate this festival for religious reasons and many as a cultural celebration. Christmas is one of those December global holidays that is popular worldwide, and its traditions may vary around the world. For example, Americans celebrate this festival with Christmas trees, expecting visits from Santa Claus, and dreaming of snowy landscapes.
On the other hand, in Australia, Christmas falls during the country’s summer, and people go camping or visit the beach over the holiday. Many Australians also decorate a “Christmas Bush,” which is a native Australian tree with small leaves and flowers that turn red during the Australian summer. The Christmas celebration in England is almost similar to that in the United States. However, in English traditions, children leave mince pies and brandy for Santa Claus instead of leaving milk and cookies.
The celebration is different in Iceland, where the capital city Reykjavik turns into a winter wonderland. This place gets filled with Christmas markets, and there are thirteen Santas, known as Yule Lads for children. It is the tradition that makes Christmas unique in different regions. However, joy and happiness are the same wherever you go during this time. Here are some more facts about Christmas.
- Date of celebration: 25th December
- Other names: Nativity, Xmas, and Noel.
- Observed by: Christians and many non-christian
- Place of Celebration: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and many other countries.
Saint Stephen’s Day
This festival is also known as the feast of Saint Stephen. This day is celebrated to commemorate Saint Stephen, who was the first Christian martyr. In Eastern Christianity, this day is celebrated on 27th December, while in western Christianity, it is celebrated on 26th December. Many countries such as Canada, Australia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, people celebrate Boxing Day instead of this Day.
This day is also the second day of Christmastide, which is celebrated to honor Saint Stephen, who was stoned to death in 36 AD. The traditions and celebrations during this festival may vary in different countries. For example, in many countries, collection boxes for the poor are kept in churches. In some countries, people dress up in old clothes and travel from door to door singing and dancing.
In Finland, Saint Stephen’s day is celebrated by a popular tradition which is a sleigh ride with horses. People also get dressed in Christmas suits and parade with singing and dancing. Here are some more facts about the festival of Saint Stephen’s Day.
- Other names: Feast of Saint Stephen
- Place of celebration: More than 25 countries such as Austria and Denmark.
- Date of celebration: 26th December
This annual celebration of African-American culture starts on December 26 and is one of the most popular December global holidays. The festival of Kwanzaa was created by an activist, Maulana Karenga, and it was first celebrated in 1966. This popular festival is based on the harvest festival traditions from various parts of Africa. Maulana Karenga created this festival after the Watt Riots. The purpose behind creating the festival of Kwanzaa was to give blacks an alternative to celebrate their history instead of imitating the practice of the dominant society.
The name Kwanzaa is said to be derived from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits.” During this festival, people decorate their houses with artworks and colorful African cloth. The festival of Kwanzaa has also been featured in different pop culture films, television, and print, such as in The Black Candle, Bad Santa, Arthur, and The Simpsons.
Every family celebrates this festival in their own way. However, common traditions include singing and dancing, playing African drums, poetry, storytelling, and a large traditional meal with loved ones. On each of the seven nights of Kwanzaa, several families gather, and a child lights one candle on the Kinara, then they discuss one of the seven principles and values of African culture. On December 31, an African feast, called a Karamu, is held. Let us take a look at some other facts related to the festival of Kwanzaa:
- Date of celebration: 26th December to 1st January
- Place of celebration: Africa and several states of the USA.
- Celebrated by: African Americans
New Year Eve
New Year is a holiday that people from all over the world celebrate with great enthusiasm. That Eve is probably the most popular among all the December global holidays. The last day of the year, 31st December, is celebrated with gratitude and people welcome the new beginnings with a lot of joy and happiness. On this day, people celebrate by dancing, singing, lighting fireworks, partying, and spending time with their loved ones. The celebration of this Eve goes from the evening of the 31st December to past midnight into the 1st January.
The first regions that welcome the New Year are The Line Islands and Tonga. On the other hand, the last regions that celebrate New Year’s Eve are Baker Island, Howland Island, and American Samoa. Many people go to churches; others go to pubs or nightclubs and enjoy the last day of the year. People commemorate the change in the last year and welcome the new year with hope and peace. Here are a few other facts about this December global holiday.
- Place of Celebration: All over the world
- Date of Celebration: 31st December
- Other names: Old Year’s Day, Saint Sylvester’s Day, etc.
On boxing day, gifts are distributed among the poor, tradespeople, and servants. This day is celebrated in countries like Canada, New Zealand, Commonwealth countries, and Australia on December 26. The main idea behind this event is to make those people happy that are fighting or boxing metaphorically with their lives. Some people say that the name of this Holiday comes from the boxes of gifts that people give to their employees on the next day of Christmas. Other people say that the name came from Alms boxes that are usually placed in churches to donate money or things to poor people. It is among the famous holidays celebrated around the world. One more thing about this day is that if it comes on Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday will be declared an official holiday.
St. Nicholas Day
St. Nicholas was a devout Christian who gave all of his possessions and money to poor people. He had given all of his things just to help the ones that were sick and suffering from something. St. Nicholas Day is celebrated in the memory of this kind guy. There are many legends about this person. One of them states that back in the day, when a person had to collect dowry for the marriage of his three daughters, St. Nicholas helped him by appearing gold in their shoes. St. Nicholas was also the guy who ins[pired the idea of Santa Claus. This particular day is celebrated on the death anniversary of St. Nicholas, which is on 6 December.
Buddhists celebrated the day when Siddhartha Gautama gained enlightenment through mediation and complete focus. And in that memory, this day is still celebrated every year on December 8th. Siddhartha was the founder of the basic principles of Buddhism, which is why people called him the Buddha. This day teaches people how a prince that had a luxurious life just abandoned everything and went out to find peace of the soul. The primary purpose of this day is to teach people how they can free themselves from the root of suffering just by meditating. On this day, many people go to the Bodhi tree situated in India near the Falgu River to pay their respects. Mostly this day is restricted to the Buddhist religion, but a person that seeks peace and a sorrow-less soul can learn many things from the idea of this day.
Human Rights Day
In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly declared the Universal declaration of human rights. Though its formal declaration was disclosed in 1950 when the UN announced 10th December as Human Rights Day. The main idea behind this day is to give a common standard of living to people of all nations, colors, and religions. Some people also consider it celebrating from 10 to December 20 holiday. It is about giving the people recognition in their community to secure their rights. One of its many goals is to make the youth able to stand up for the rights of humans. The importance of this day and the idea behind it is increasing every day due to its awareness on social media platforms of different communities. Some of the main slogans of this day are Recover Better, My Voice Counts, Speak Up and Stop Discrimination, Embrace Diversity, and Human Rights Education.
In the Northern Hemisphere, winter is a season that comes with dark days and snow. The winter solstice is the moment that occurs on December 20 or 21, when half of the earth goes away from the sun. This is also considered to be the shortest day of the entire year. But, the good news for people in Northern Hemisphere is that after this day, days become a bit longer, which means they can enjoy more sunlight. One of the clues to identify this day is to go out and look at your shadow. If it is longest than usual, it means that the winter solstice is going on. On the other hand, the day that has the most sunlight hours is known as the summer solstice.
International Human Solidarity Day
Solidarity is one of the most essential and basic principles of international relationships in this century. The world is going through some bad conditions like the growth of inequality and worldwide poverty. To overcome days like this and have a solid statement in front of those global problems, days like International Human Solidarity are celebrated. Unity in even in diversity, and public awareness about solidarity are the key goals to acquire behind the idea of this day. The UN General Assembly has declared 20 December as International Human Solidarity Day all over the world. United Nations has also started initiatives like the establishment of the World Solidarity Fund to eliminate issues that are going on all over the world.
Just like New Year’s Eve in any other country, Omisoka is the last day of the year in Japan. The origin of this day is Misoka which is connected with “O” which means big. There are different customs of Omisoka in Japan which are Osouji, Toshikoshi-Soba, Toshinoyu, and many more. Toshinoyu is one of the custom which means taking bath before the night of the new year. It means that you are cleansing all of the negative thoughts and bad luck before going into the new year. On the other hand, Toshikoshi-soba is one of the customs of Omisoka that involves eating soba noodles. These are the noodles that are made out of buckwheat. Just like this, there are different versions of celebrating this event.
If we talk about cultural celebrations, then December is probably the only month that consists of a lot of global festivals. Aside from the December global holidays that we have mentioned in this article, there are also many other events that are of utmost importance and popular worldwide. This twelfth and the last month of the year offers many memorable and important days for celebrations. Aside from the historical events, December also consists of the days that represent environmental and climate features. There are some December global holidays that are celebrated for astronomical reasons.
In the northern hemisphere, December brings the winter solstice, which is the day with the fewest daylight hours. On the other hand, in the southern hemisphere, December brings the summer solstice, which is the day with the most daylight hours. So now that you know the top 10 December global holidays and some important facts about them, you can finally select which is the best festival according to you and celebrate them with a purpose. Let us now take a brief look at the historical facts and importance of the month of December and the December global holidays.
History About December Global Holidays
According to the Julian and Gregorian calendars, December is the last month of the year and also the last month to have 31 days. There are many days in December that have historical importance. Whether it is the birth date of Jesus Christ or the day to spread awareness about HIV, December is the month full of days with significance. One of the most amazing things about this month is that many December global holidays are secular and popular worldwide. Events like Christmas and New Year’s Eve are celebrated by many people around the world. Overall, December is the world of holidays, and many of these holidays have historical significance.
Frequently Asked Questions About December Global Holidays
Let us take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions related to the December global holidays.
Which places are popular for New Year’s Fireworks?
The following places are extremely popular for the fireworks on New Year’s Eve:
- Burj Khalifa, Dubai
- Thames River, London
- Sydney’s Harbour
- Hilly Streets, Edinburgh
- Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
What are the zodiac signs for the month of December?
The Zodiac signs for the month of December are Sagittarius and Capricorn.
What are the month-long observances in December?
Some of the popular month-long observances in December are:
- The month of the advent of Christ (Catholic tradition)
- National Eggnog Month (United States)
- No Gender December (International)
How many global holidays are in the month of December?
There are around 14 global holidays in the month of December, out of which ten most popular December global holidays are mentioned in this article.
Which is the most popular Christian festival in December?
Christmas is one of the most popular Christian festivals in the month of December.
Which Jewish global holiday comes in December?
Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that starts on 28th November and ends on 6 December. This festival is celebrated by the Jewish community to celebrate the triumph of Jews over Syrian Greeks and to commemorate the retrieval of the temple of Jerusalem.
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