Holidays Around the World

Almost everyone has heard of Christmas, but there are some winter holidays, and their traditions, that often go unnoticed in this part of the world.


Rebecca Harris

Christmas is only one of many wintertime holidays.

Rebecca Harris, Columnist

Holiday season: the time when stores are decked out in red and green, with glitter galore.  Walking by bakeries and smelling gingerbread or sugar cookies. Many people know about Christmas and how it is celebrated, but there are other holidays too, ones that don’t get as much recognition. Here is just a small piece in the large list of holidays that are celebrated around the world. 


Perhaps the second most known holiday, Hanukkah is, in the simplest of words, the Jewish Festival of Lights. Lasting eight days, this holiday celebrates the miracle of the oil that kept the menorah lit for eight days, instead of the predicted one day. Major traditions include playing a game of dreidel, lighting the menorah, and making any sort of fried food (the common foods include latkes– potato pancakes- and jelly doughnuts). Hanukkah this year will begin the evening of Dec. 10, 2020 and will end the evening of Dec. 18, 2020.


Started in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, this holiday acquired its name from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza”, meaning “first fruits” in Swahili. Kwanzaa is based around seven principles called the Nguzo Saba. These principles are Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). Each night, a child lights one of the candles, placed in a Kinara, and then the entire family discusses that candle’s principle. Some of the other celebrations include singing and dancing. Kwanzaa this year  will begin on Dec. 26, 2020 and will end on Jan. 1, 2020.  

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is mainly observed in the United Kingdom, and other countries that used to be part of the British Empire. The origins of this holiday’s name are unknown, but speculations are aplenty. Boxing Day dates back to 1833, and is usually celebrated on Dec. 26. According to The Spruce, “traditional Boxing Day food includes baked ham, pease pudding, and mince pies with brandy butter, along with a slice of Christmas cake or another dessert.” Boxing Day is a day off from work, and nowadays, has become similar to a Black Friday. 

St. Lucia’s Day

Celebrated in Sweden, Norway, and certain areas of Finland, this holiday commemorates a Christian martyr, St. Lucia. She was killed in 304 CE by the Romans due to her religious beliefs. “In Scandinavian countries each town elects its own St. Lucia. The festival begins with a procession led by the St. Lucia designee, who is followed by young girls dressed in white and wearing lighted wreaths on their heads and boys dressed in white pajama-like costume singing traditional songs,” writes Britannica. In each family, the eldest daughter brings coffee and food, such as lussekatter (saffron bread) to family members and visitors. St. Lucia’s Day is on Dec. 13 every year.

Shab-e Yalda

Translating to “Night of Birth”, Shab-e Yalda is an Iranian celebration of the winter solstice. As said by Samaneh Gahaedi, “Nowadays Yalda has become a social occasion when friends and family gather to eat, drink, tell stories and read poetry, especially Hafiz, until dawn.” Popular foods include pomegranate, watermelon, fesenjoon, fereni, and khoresh bademjan. This holiday is on the winter solstice (Dec. 21, 2020).

These are just some of the winter holidays cherished. There are many more from around the world and some are even celebrated in the U.S. This year, acknowledge the rest of the world’s religions beyond Christmas, and be thoughtful of people you know who share different beliefs around the holiday season (Related: the search for exotic holidays continues!).