Winter Holidays from Around the World!

A look at the most widely celebrated winter holidays

As winter arrives, it is easy for people to begin falling into Christmas traditions, myself included. But oftentimes we forget that there are so many different holidays to be celebrated. Regardless of how you say it-  “celebrate”, “celebrar”, “célébrer”, there is so much to celebrate this holiday season. For some, December may be the month for bad Hallmark movies and Christmas music, and for others, December may be a month for playing dreidel and lighting the menorah.. It is important to respect and acknowledge the significance of other holidays during this time since all winter holidays deserve recognition.

According to Brittanica.com, Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish festival of lights that commemorates a 2,000-year-old miracle in which light prevailed over darkness. In the 2nd century BCE, a small group of devoted Jews with insufficient weapons defeated one of the strongest armies on Earth. They took back control of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and recommitted it to God’s service. They miraculously lit the menorah, and the oil that was meant to last for one day ended up lasting for eight. The shamash is one of the menorah’s nine flames and is used to light the other eight candles. By Hanukkah’s seventh night, all eight lights are kindled. 

As reported by the Christian History Institute, Sweden, Norway, and the Swedish-speaking regions of Finland all celebrate St. Lucia’s Day on December 13. In Scandinavia, the celebration marks the start of the Christmas season and aims to spread happiness and joy. Families celebrate St. Lucia’s Day at home by having one of their daughters dress in white and offer coffee and baked goodies to the other family members, such as saffron bread and ginger cookies. 

History.com states that Chinese New Year is one of the most important celebrations of the year. The New Year typically begins with the first new moon that occurs between the end of January and spans the first 15 days of the lunar calendar. During the Chinese New Year, employees are given seven days off consecutively so they can join in parades, dances, games, and fireworks. Elders give out envelopes containing money to children. Foods made from glutinous rice are commonly eaten. Other traditions are held to represent togetherness, prosperity, abundance, and good luck for the new year.

There are countless additional holidays, including the Winter Solstice, Mardi Gras, Boxing Day, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and many more. There are numerous ways to honor the customs of different cultures, but the most important thing is to do so with respect. Make sure your celebrations respect the tradition and the holiday by doing so. If you are familiar with someone from a different culture than your own, you can politely inquire about their customs and holiday celebrations. By doing your research and using reliable sources in a library or online, you can find out more about the customs of many cultures. Whatever you choose to do, take advantage of the holiday season and view it as a chance to help celebrate diversity, create more cultural awareness, and overall help bring you and others around you closer together this holiday season. 

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