Home By Geneva >> December Holidays Around the World
December is a big month in many cultures for holidays and festive traditions. Across the globe, many people, religions, and cultures celebrate holidays that carry significant generational meaning to them. Below is a list of some of the more celebrated holidays, what they stand for, and how people celebrate them.
Hanukkah (Dec. 7 – 15)
The Jewish people have been celebrating Hanukkah for over 2,000 years now. This commemorates when one day’s worth of oil lasted for eight during the battle between the Jewish people and the Greek-Syrian army. The lighting of an eight-pronged menorah, using the same candle to light each one every night when the sun sets.
Playing dreidel games, spending quality time with family, and eating food such as Sufganiyot and Latkes are also common traditions. If you would like to try a Latkes yourself, give this delicious recipe a try! Check out this article by My Jewish Learning for more information about Hanukkah!
Bodhi Day (Dec. 8)
This Buddhist holiday celebrates the day that the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, attained enlightenment. Followers celebrate this day by meditating, chanting Buddhist texts, studying of the Dharma, and performing acts of kindness. On Bodhi Day, Buddhists will decorate a Bodhi tree with lights and display statues of the Buddha around the home.
If you want to learn more about Bodhi Day, check out this article by Learn Religions!
Yule (Dec. 21 – Jan.1)
Originally a tradition for Vikings and Germanic people coinciding with the winter solstice, Yule is now celebrated by Neo-Pagans. Due to their historical ties, Yule and Christmas traditions are very similar. This includes the use of wreaths, Yule logs, and feasting on various foods. Common foods people indulge in during Yule include Yule log cake and Eggnog.
Learn more about the traditions, history, or customs of Yule by visiting this article by the Britannica Library!
Christmas (Dec. 25)
The celebration of Christmas is both religious and cultural. Originally based on the birth of Jesus Christ and celebrated by Christians, Christmas has become a cultural phenomenon globally. Traditions include the exchanging of gifts, spending time with loved ones, and watching Christmas movies throughout the month of December.
Those who celebrate also feast on food such as turkey, ham, casseroles, and sweets. Learn about the history of Christmas by visiting this article by History!
Boxing Day (Dec. 26)
This derived from Victorian era Britain but is widely celebrated in the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand. Dating back to the 1800s, Queen Victoria created this day to give servants and workers a much-needed day off. It is now more of a commercial holiday for giving gifts to loved ones and enjoying delicious meals with them.
Popular dishes served on Boxing Day include Mince pies and leftovers from Christmas Day! To learn more about the history of Boxing Day, visit the Farmer’s Almanac!
Kwanzaa (Dec. 26 – Jan. 1)
Started in 1966, Kwanzaa is a time of learning, family, and celebration of African heritage and culture. During this time, families and communities honor ancestors and proclaim the bond between them. There are 7 principles of the holiday, one candle is lit each day on a kinara to represent that day’s principle. If you want to learn more about these principles, visit the website of the National Museum of African American History and Cultures!
On the sixth day, a large feast called Karamu is held. Dishes often honor African, Caribbean, and South American recipes. Popular dishes include Gumbo, Callaloo, and Sweet Potato pie for dessert.
Hopefully, this article helped you learn a thing or two about these traditions. You may now even be interested in immersing yourself in one of these holidays! If you enjoyed this article, let us know by tagging @homebygeneva on Instagram!