Celebrating December: Festivals Around the World

December is a month filled with joy, warmth, and festivities around the world. From traditional celebrations to modern events, let’s explore the diverse festivals that make this time of the year truly special.

Christmas Cheer in the UK

Christmas Markets
As December unfolds, the United Kingdom transforms into a winter wonderland with charming Christmas markets. From London to Edinburgh, these markets offer a delightful array of handmade crafts, festive treats, and the unmistakable scent of mulled wine.

Pantomime Performances
The British tradition of pantomime takes centre stage during the holiday season. Audiences of all ages gather to enjoy these whimsical theatrical productions filled with laughter, music, and fairy-tale adventures.

Boxing Day
On the 26th of December, the UK continues the celebration with Boxing Day. Originally a day for giving to the less fortunate, it has evolved into a time for sports, shopping, and relaxation with loved ones.

Las Posadas in Mexico

Las Posadas Processions
In Mexico, the nine nights leading up to Christmas are celebrated with Las Posadas, reenacting Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter. Colourful processions, music, and lively festivities create a sense of community and joy.

The celebration of the Posadas is an important Mexican Christmas tradition and features prominently in holiday festivities in Mexico (and more and more north of the border as well). These community celebrations take place on each of the nine nights leading up to Christmas, from December 16 to 24th.

Posadas: Traditional Mexican Christmas Celebration (learnreligions.com)

Hogmanay in Scotland

New Year’s Eve Extravaganza
Scotland bids farewell to the old year with Hogmanay, a New Year’s Eve celebration like no other. Edinburgh’s famous street party, complete with music, fireworks, and the traditional “first footing” custom, welcomes the new year in style.

Kwanzaa’s Cultural Reflection

Kwanzaa Traditions
Founded in the United States but celebrated by people of African descent globally, Kwanzaa spans seven days from December 26th to January 1st. Each day represents a different principle, fostering unity, creativity, and community.

Lasting for seven days, Kwanzaa isn’t a religious holiday, but rather a secularly spiritual one that celebrates seven different principles that are collectively called the Nguzo Saba.

These key principles are each highlighted on one of the seven days of the holiday. They include the following, in order:​

  1. Umoja (unity)
  2. Kujichagulia (self-determination)
  3. Ujima (collective work and responsibility)
  4. Ujamaa (cooperative economics)
  5. Nia (purpose)
  6. Kuumba (creativity)
  7. Imani (faith)

Winter Solstice Celebrations

Yule Festivals
In many Pagan and Wiccan traditions, December 21st marks the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. Yule festivals celebrate the return of the sun with bonfires, feasting, and rituals.

Hanukkah Lights Up the Night

close up photo of candle holder on top of glass table

Festival of Lights
Across Jewish communities worldwide, Hanukkah brightens up December nights. Families come together to light the menorah, exchange gifts, and enjoy delicious fried foods, symbolizing the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days.

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere

Summer Christmas in Australia
While the Northern Hemisphere experiences winter, December in Australia means summer! Australians celebrate Christmas with beach picnics, barbecues, and outdoor festivities under the sunny skies.

Saint Nicholas Day in Europe

Festive Feast on December 6th
In several European countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas Day on December 6th is celebrated with parades, festive markets, and the exchange of small gifts.

As December unfolds, these festivals weave a tapestry of diverse cultures and traditions, uniting people in the spirit of celebration. Whether it’s the glittering lights of Christmas or the symbolic candles of Hanukkah, the global community comes together to mark the end of the year with joy, reflection, and hope for the future.