December is, without doubt, the most festive and funfilled month of the entire year marked by multiple festivals and events all over the world. Being the most loved and acknowledged month of the year, it is filled with diverse celebrations including religious, cultural, and corporate celebrations.
The month of December is generally surrounded by warmth, love, and affection as people become friendlier, laugh more, and you’ll see everyone exchanging gifts. For those who think Christmas is the highlight of this month, rest assured that isn’t just it. Let’s have a dive into the December global holidays, celebrated with such zeal and zest.
Table of Contents
World Holidays in December
Let’s have a look at the most popular holidays during December celebrated around the world in different cultures and traditions.
|Name of Festival||Date||Reason for Celebration|
|Hannukah||28th November – 6th December||Commemorating the rededication of Jerusalem’s second temple after the Maccabean Revolt|
|World AIDs Day||1st December||Raising awareness about AIDS/HIV and supporting those who are affected|
|Krampusnacht||5th December (or at the start)||Discipling disobedient and naughty children|
|Bodhi Day||8th December||Celebrating Siddharth Gautam’s achievements and spiritual enlightenment|
|Santa Lucia||13th December||Honoring the Lucia of Syracuse|
|International Human Solidarity Day||20th December||Encouraging freedom, equality, social justice, and cooperation amongst people|
|Yule||21st December to 1st January||Honouring the Norse God Odin|
|Festivus||23rd December||Promoting against the commercialization of Christmas|
|Christmas Eve||24th December||Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ|
|Christmas||25th December||Celebrating Lord Jesus’s birth|
|Boxing Day||26th December||Appreciating and admiring the services of helpers and workers|
|Kwanzaa||26th December to 1st January||Commemorating the African American culture and heritage|
|Las Posadas||16th December to 24th December||Marking the journey of Joseph and Mary searching for safe shelter|
|New Year’s Eve||31st December||Marking the year’s end and a new beginning for the next|
|Omisaka||31st December||Marking the Japanese New Year|
Being one of the major December holidays, Hannukah, also going by the name of Chanukah, is a Jewish celebration that lasts for eight days. It is celebrated to commemorate the rededication of Jerusalem’s second temple after the Maccabean Revolt. Those who were a part of this event believed it was a miracle that the untainted oil, expected to keep the menorah’s candles burning for one day, lasted for eight nights. Hannukah is the anniversary of this event.
Every day among those 8 days, after sundown, a new candle is added each day to the menorah. The shamash, helper candle is the ninth that helps light other candles. The celebration includes recitation of blessings and serving unique Hanukkah foods like latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jam-filled donuts). It also includes the singing of special hymns along with exchanging gifts and almsgiving every day. Today, this event is celebrated around the world in 21 countries and more and more people are taking interest in the Jewish culture.
2. World AIDs Day
The World AIDs Day has been commemorated each year ever since 1988 on the 1st of December with the aim of raising awareness about the disease and showing support for those who are suffering from HIV/AIDs. This December holiday also serves as an opportunity to remember those people who have lost the battle against diseases relating to AIDs. Among the main aims of this day is to encourage people to get tested for the disease and check their status. It also serves as a day to spread awareness about prevention and ways to reduce AIDs spread. People affected by AIDs have also presented the chance to share their experiences and survival stories.
Being celebrated around the world, the event is marked by different means including funding safe-ex programs, catering to orphaned children, and urging governments to make efforts for stopping the HIV spread.
Krampusnacht is one of the December global holidays celebrated on the 5th of December in several countries including Germany, Austria, and other Alpine countries. Krampusnact is celebrated on the arrival of the demonic creature, Krampus, who punishes naughty children. While the origins are still unclear, it may have arisen to scare children so they don’t misbehave during Christmas. Celebrated at the beginning of the month, it is celebrated by some young men dressing as scary beings going door-to-door to scare children. In Europe, this festival has become of the global December holidays celebrated by people partying and parading, enjoying yummy drinks, snacks, and music.
4. Bodhi Day
Bodhi day is one of the holidays in December around the world that commemorates Siddhartha Gautama’s enlightenment, who had, after tasting freedom, become the Buddha Shakyamuni. The event is celebrated on 8th December in Japan as one of the important global holidays in December. In some countries, for the Buddhists especially, this festival has become an alternative to the celebration of the new year. This day is observed by Buddhists in communities all around the world. This day is known to honor Buddha’s perfect insight of spiritual truth and then his death.
Known as Sambhuddatva Jayanthi, the awakening or birthday of Sambuddha, this beautiful day is celebrated in a peaceful and calm manner where Buddhists often spend time praying, meditating, and thinking about the four noble truths and the noble eightfold path. Some Buddhists in their homes may set a bodhi tree with buddha status and lights.
5. Santa Lucia
Santa Lucia, also known as Lucia day is celebrated each year on December 13th in the memory and honor of Santa Lucia who was a saint regarded as a ray of hope. This auspicious day marks the day when Saint Lucia was martyred and is celebrated in her memory. Celebrated in Italy, Norway, and Sweden, this festival starts off with a parade that is led by St. Lucia’s designee and some young boys and girls in white dresses, holding candles and singing traditional songs.
The celebration of this event includes dressing girls in traditional white dresses and serving special edibles including saffron bread (lussekatter) and ginger biscuits with coffee. On this day, some unique traditional foods are also offered to the visitors. This momentous day is also celebrated with meteorological processions and concerts.
6. International Human Solidarity Day
One of the international holidays in December is the international human solidarity day which is celebrated on the 20th of December each year. This year commemorates the International Red Cross Foundation in 1863 and also celebrates its underlying principles which are impartiality, neutrality, humanity, and independence. Human solidarity day is globally celebrated to reinforce the idea that we all are one and owe a responsibility to one another. The day is celebrated to encourage everyone to promote solidarity in their lives. This crucial day is celebrated internationally and is a true reminder that everyone is connected and has a responsibility towards one another. The event is celebrated by helping the poor, and disabled, and raising awareness of people’s rights.
Celebrated from the 21st of December to the 1st of January, Yule, often going by the name Yuletide, is a Germanic festivity celebrated in different parts of the world. Having pagan roots, including links to Mohdraniht, the Anglo-Saxon feast, and the Norse God Odin, this festival is among the most famous December global holidays that come with the Winter Solstice. This festival is a way to give thanks to Goddesses and Gods. In ancient days, this event was celebrated by lighting a bonfire on a big log and the night is spent outdoors.
Some people still light a bonfire in memory of the event, but most people now make a Yule altar, making a Yule Wreath. On this special day, families make candlelit dinners with the decoration of the Yule tree. The event is marked by candlelit dinners, the exchange of gifts based on nature, and Yule tree ornaments, thanking God’s presence in their life.
Festivus is one of the global December festivals that gained popularity in 1997 as a result of “The Strike”, the Seinfeld episode, celebrated on 23rd December. This false holiday is set with the aim of promoting awareness about the materialism involved in Christmas. Festivus is celebrated very differently where people stand around a plain pole of aluminum instead of getting a Christmas tree. Two of the most famous traditions of Festivus include “Airing of grievances” and “Feats of Strength. While the former is about expressing to the people who had once saddened you, the latter is a dinner hosted at the end.
Some people criticize the supporters of Festivus, calling them anti-traditionalists who hold false beliefs about Christmas and destroying its importance. Yet, Festivus has gained popularity amongst the minimalists and budget spenders.
9. Christmas Eve
One of the most essential December celebrations is the day of Christmas Eve celebrated in different parts of the world including the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand, and Canada. People celebrate the 24th of December as a global holiday to mark the tradition of Christmas. This event marks the start of Jesus Christ’s birth events, Christmas, uniting the world and bringing light as Jesus came down.
This auspicious day is marked by spending time with family, going to the church, and meeting friends. On this special day, cookies and ham, amongst other special food are prepared to mark the day.
Christmas is the most integral part of December, an event that everyone knows about. Among the global December holidays, Christmas is the most widely known and celebrated around the world. Christmas marks the birth of Jesus Christ, known to be God’s son as the Christians believe. Others take part in the Christmas tradition of spending time with their family and friends. For most people, this tends to be the happiest day of the month when people come together to celebrate and spend some family time. This event is widely celebrated in different areas around the world including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
Other than a religious celebration, Christmas is celebrated as a cultural festival. The festivities of this month include family celebrations, Christmas dinners, attending church, and enjoying a vacation.
11. Boxing Day
There have been mixed views on how boxing day had come into existence, but it is one of the global holidays celebrated in December. Most people believe that this day was the official day when the church gave alm boxes to servants, postmen, and errand boys in exchange for the services they performed throughout the year. Falling next to Christmas, this day is celebrated around the world. Boxing day is celebrated to honor and admire the efforts of those people who work for us, including guards, workers, cooks, postmen, etc. The day is celebrated by presenting gifts, prizes, and appreciation notes to our helpers. Around the world, this day is declared and celebrated as a public holiday to honor the efforts of those who work tirelessly for use throughout the year. In some countries like New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Australia, boxing day is celebrated by the organization of sporting events.
Kwanzaa is one of the different global December festivals designed to bring families and cultures together. This 7-day-long event is based on the seven principles that include self-determination, purpose, creativity, faith, unity, responsibility, and cooperative economics. These principles also go by the name of Nguzo Saba, or “the seven principles” guiding the Kwanzaa celebration. Started by Dr. Maulana Karenga, and observed first in 1966, the name of this event means “the first fruits”.
Kwanzaa is a unique festival celebrated worldwide, especially in the US. People celebrate the specialty of this event with traditional dances and songs. Moreover, it also includes other interesting things like poetry telling, storytelling, and discussion of the African cultural values. People gather to celebrate the event with music, gifts, food, and candle lighting. These events then end with a large meal at the day’s end along with a “Karamu”, a mega feast on 31st December, marking the end of the event.
13. Las Posadas
Las Posadas is a part of the global December celebrations of Christmas, acknowledging the blessed journey of Joseph and the Virgin Mary. As it is known, Joseph and Mary were in search of a shelter to give birth to Jesus, but no one had let them enter. After struggling for a long, they found a shelter, and Las Posadas is the event that marks this blessed hospitable moment. Las Posadas is a global December holiday that is celebrated in some areas of the UAE and Mexico.
This momentous day is celebrated by people visiting their friends and families and taking rounds of people’s homes cheerfully and singing traditional songs as they seek shelter. The hosts, the owners of the home often serve drinks and food to the guests who come for shelter.
14. New Year’s Eve
The last December Day, 31st December also happens to be a global December holiday that marks New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve is amongst the biggest global holidays in December, celebrated all around the world, marking the last Gregorian Calendar day before the arrival of the New year. This is one event that is celebrated worldwide to commemorate the transition from one year to the next, with a light of hope.
The celebrations of New Year’s Eve vary around the world. In some countries, large parties are thrown with amazing large-scale outdoor concerts. Other countries hold quieter celebrations on this event by exchanging good wishes, hosting family gatherings, and eating traditional-type foods. Religious groups go ahead in giving thanks for the previous year and praying for blessings in the year ahead. In some other countries, New Year’s Eve is seen as a time to reflect upon goals for the year ahead.
Omisaka is one of the most important traditions of the year in the Japanese tradition. Also known as the Japanese New Year, this event is celebrated by people decluttering the previous year’s things and then cleaning the home to welcome the new year. On this auspicious day, families get together for the last time of this year and enjoy a bowl of toshikoshi-udon or toshikoshi-soba, the tradition of eating long noodles to move from the previous year to the next.
On the night of the event, people visit temples or shrines for Hatsumode. Large bells are struck in the Buddhist temples for every one of the 108 earthly desires being known to cause suffering to humans, and Shinto Shrines make amazake to give to the people.
What holidays are celebrated in December? If you hadn’t known earlier, we are sure you do know by now. December is a festive month filled with a collection of events celebrated globally in different parts of the world.
How many holidays are celebrated in December around the world? Well, there are several others than the 15 that we have covered above. We gave you an insight into the most popular ones celebrated around the world. You can always have a deeper look to see all the other festivals around the world in December. With all these events lined up in December, you are all set to end your year on a blissful, positive note. Remember to always enjoy yourself in this festive month and don’t forget to thank all the people who made your year worth living!