7 Unbelievable Holiday Celebrations In The World Besides Christmas You May Not Know But True
So Christmas has come and as we all know, this event takes a lot of space when it comes to holiday celebrations. Considered both as a religious occasion honoring the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ and also as a cultural one combining Christian practices with ancient traditions like decorating our homes with pine trees and the presence of Santa with gift giving.
However, in some countries that I’ve been, Christmas is not the only occasion that there is in the month of December. Actually there is a deluge of other celebrations which are very significant to these nations of their origin. From a religious event honoring a Christian martyr to observing a day-off of servants, here is a list of 7 unbelievable holiday celebrations besides Christmas.
St. Lucia Day
A festival of lights that falls on December 13 and is celebrated in Sweden, Norway and parts of Finland with Swedish-speaking residents. An unbelievable holiday celebration honoring St. Lucia, a Christian martyr killed by the Romans in 304 A.D. for her religious beliefs. Girls go on a procession on this day, clad in white gowns known as “Lucia brides” with a wreath of burning candles on their heads.
St. Lucia Day marks the beginning of Christmas season in the Scandinavian region and it signifies hope and light during the winter months. Families observe this occasion as well, with their eldest daughter (or son if it’s the case) clad in white serving lussekatter (saffron bread) with coffee to the other members of the family and their visitors.
A Mexican celebration that falls between December 16 up to December 24, Las Posadas is a tribute to the odyssey of St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This unbelievable holiday celebration centers on a child leading the procession around the town as they knock on different doors asking for a lodging to Mary and Joseph. Each “posada” ends at the last house where they’ve knocked during the night and of which they will be welcomed with tamales, and the ceremonial smashing of the candy-filled “pinata” (7-pointed star).
St. Nicholas Day
Jolly old St. Nicholas of Myra is known as a saint who sold everything he owned and gave his fortunes away to the poor. Celebrated in The Netherlands and other northern European countries, his feast day falls on December 6 which is actually his death anniversary when he was martyred on Dec. 3, 343 A.D. An unbelievable holiday celebration, it includes leaving gifts and sweet treats to children in their shoes (or clogs in The Netherlands) on the night of December 5.
An unbelievable holiday celebration that originated in the UK during the Middle Ages, Boxing Day is observed on December 26. In those times, December 26 was the day when the alms box in Churches were opened and the collection was given to the poor (that is why it’s called “boxing” day) and at some point, it was also the day after Christmas when servants were given the day-off to spend the holidays with their families. These days, Boxing Day is a national holiday not only in the UK, but also in Canada, Australia and in New Zealand.
Meaning “first fruits”, Kwanzaa is an ancient African harvest festival that falls from December 26 to January 1. An unbelievable holiday celebration for all Africans all over the world, each family has its own unique way to observe Kwanzaa which include songs, dances, poetry reading and a dinner. On each of the 7 nights, families come together and a child lights one of the candles in the “kinara” (candle holder) while one of the seven African principles and values will be discussed.
An unbelievable holiday celebration in Scotland that starts with a big torchlight procession held every December 30 until January 2. Hogmanay is a wild New Year’s Eve gathering with parties that evolved from the celebration of the winter solstice and some elements of Samhain, an ancient Gaelic event incorporated with it.
An old tradition in Germany and most of the Alpine region in Europe, Krampusnacht is an unbelievable holiday celebration on December 5 when Krampus, the opposite of St. Nicholas comes to town and reward good children with gifts. Indeed he had made a list beforehand and noticed who were naughty and who were nice thus he takes the rowdy kids away to the “underworld”.
Learning about the cultures of other countries is an incredible way to become aware and appreciate our contrasts. No matter how you choose to honor the Yuletide season, at the end of the day we all have one thing in common and that is the sense of solidarity or oneness. This year 2021 may look different but nevertheless I wish you a merry, fabulous and COVID-19-free Christmas.
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