Holidays in December (that aren’t Christmas or Hanukkah)

By: Blis Savidge

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It’s the most festive month of the year, but there’s more to December than just Christmas and Hanukkah. Here are some of the more obscure December holidays celebrated around the world.

  1. Feast of St. Nicholas and Krampussnacht: In parts of Europe The Feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated on December 6th. It is a Christian Holiday, similar to Christmas, celebrated with gifts and religious services. Unlike Christmas, naughty boys and girls are rumored to be punished by St. Nicholas’ helper, Krampus, a scary horned monster. Some parts of Europe celebrate Krampusnacht on December 5th by dressing up in costumes and parading around. The terrifying mythical creature is being brought into the mainstream by the upcoming Christmas Horror Movie Krampus.
  2.  Bodhi Day: December 8th is an important date for Buddhists. The holiday marks the day when their Buddha achieved enlightenment. The day is celebrated with meditation and reading of the Dharma, traditional meals and acts of kindness.
  3. Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe: Also known as Our Lady of Guadalupe Day, this Catholic holiday is celebrated around Mexico as the day that a man is believed to have encountered the Virgin Mary in Mexico City. Fiestas and parades are common, but it is also commemorated with visits to church and pilgrimages to Basilica of Guadalupe to see an image of the Virgin Mary.
  4. Pancha Ganapati: The family festival of giving is celebrated by Hindus from December 21st-25th. On each day one of the five faces of Pancha Ganapati is worshiped with food, chants and incense. Each day focuses on bringing joy and harmony into five parts of life: family, friends, associates, culture and religion. The holiday is commonly celebrated with family outing, gifts, feasts and shrines.
  5. Kwanzaa: Created in 1966 to bring African-Americans together as a community, the weeklong celebration begins on December 26th and goes through January 1st. On each night, a candle is lit representing on of the seven principles called Nguzo Saba. The principles include unity, self-determination, purpose, creativity, and faith. The holiday is celebrated in many different ways but often includes feasts, story telling, singing and dancing, and even gifts.
  6. Hogmanay: The Scottish version of New Years is celebrated on December 31st and for most people is a bigger deal than Christmas. Many parties are held but there are also a few traditions including singing the song “Auld Lang Syne” in a circle embracing friends and family and first footing. First footing is a tradition where friends and strangers alike are welcomed into homes after midnight. The guests must bring gifts and for good luck, it’s said that the first person in the house should be a male with dark hair.
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