What would the holidays and winter season be without fun traditions? For most people, completing their favorite holiday traditions can make the long, cold winter months a tad bit more bearable. For others, holiday traditions mean spending time with family, friends, and loved ones. Some people believe that holiday traditions are seen as a necessary way to conform to societal standards & commercialism, and so they hate them. However you view holiday traditions and celebrate them, here are 5 fun holiday/winter-themed traditions that are celebrated around the world.
Celebrating The Christmas Holiday
With Christianity as the world’s largest religion, loads of people celebrate this particular holiday all across the world. Many people put up and decorate evergreen trees (otherwise known as Christmas trees), put on plays depicting the birth of Jesus Christ, and give gifts on December 25th. People also host the Feast of Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. People also celebrate the holiday with the myth of Santa Claus, a jolly old man said to live in the North Pole and give gifts to children all around the world the night of Christmas Eve. Children write lists of what they want for Santa and leave it near their chimney with milk and cookies for him. Movies and stories with Santa abound, and a popular story many people read on Christmas Eve is The Night Before Christmas. If you’d like to read more about the Christmas holiday, click here.
Celebrating New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve is celebrated every year on December 31st all around the world, and typically involves fireworks, music, alcohol, and several ways (such as eating certain foods and things like burning bayberry candles) to bring good luck for the new year. Many people kiss their significant others at the stroke of midnight to bring good luck and love for the rest of the year. Others clean out their closets (out with the old, in with the new), make New Year’s resolutions, and other strange traditions. One such tradition is that people in Chile spend the night sleeping over in a cemetery to keep their deceased relatives company as the old year ends and the new one begins. Another tradition in Switzerland involves dropping ice cream onto the floor to bring good luck. If you’re interested in learning more about unique New Year’s traditions from around the world, click here.
Yalda is a holiday celebrated in Iran to celebrate the winter solstice. It’s celebrated each year between December 21st and December 22nd. Yalda celebrations date back several centuries. Families gather together to share a meal (typically dinner), read some poetry, sing, and drink until late in the night. According to legend, if a person falls asleep during the night of the winter solstice, bad luck and misfortune befalls them. Additionally, much of the food used to celebrate this holiday includes fruits and nuts – particularly pomegranates and watermelons, mainly because they symbolize dawn and the “glow of life.”
Celebrating Chinese New Year’s
The Chinese New Year’s dates back several centuries, and is typically celebrated 1-2 months after the Gregorian New Year (A.K.A., the one celebrated Jan. 1st). The traditional Chinese calendar being based off of the lunar calendar and having different dates & months than the Gregorian calendar. It’s typically held on the night of the first full moon of the year, which happens between January 21 and February 20, and it varies from year to year. The holiday is meant to honor ancestors and deities, but specific traditions can vary from region to region. For many celebrating the holiday, however, families gather together for an annual reunion dinner, people clean out their homes to get rid of bad fortune and allow space for good fortune to enter. People also decorate with red paper cuts (similar to how snowflakes are made out of paper in the West). The paper cuts are meant to bring good fortune, happiness, long life, and wealth. People also light firecrackers and give money in red envelopes to family members & loved ones. If you’re interested in learning more about the Chinese New Year, click here.
Celebrating The Hanukkah Holiday
Hanukkah is a well-known Jewish holiday celebrated right around Christmas every year. Over 2 millennia ago, the Second Temple of Jerusalem was under attack from Syria and King Antiochus III had taken control of it & rededicated it to his pagan gods. Syrian soldiers plundered and spoiled the Temple, and left it in poor condition. After several struggles to regain the Temple, the Israelites finally regained control of it and rededicated it. During that time, there was only enough oil to keep the Temple’s menorah lit for a day, but the menorah miraculously burned for 8 days – off of the 1 day supply of oil – until the Second Temple of Jerusalem was fully rededicated to Yahweh and was under the full Israelite control.
Every year, people celebrate this amazing story by lighting a menorah for 8 days, usually starting on the 25th day of Kislev (according to the Hebrew calendar). Additionally, people play driedel, eat foods such as latke and sufganiyot, and give gifts. If you’d like to read more about the holiday, click here or here.
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As an recent college graduate who studied media studies and anthropology in college, Briana Maddox enjoys learning about different cultures, traditions, holidays, historical figures, experiences, and opinions. With a vested interest in sharing such learning experiences, Briana created Life & Anthropology in the hopes of helping other people gain a better understanding and working knowledge of such topics.