The month of December brings much to celebrate about; we get to spend time with our families, give each other gifts, give back to our community, and so on. But have you ever wondered the different ways people celebrate this special time of year? While Christmas is a very well-known custom, there are other types of celebrations from different cultural backgrounds. We’ve included five different types of holidays and a little bit of their background but we want to hear from YOU! What holiday do and your loved ones celebrate in December?
- St. Nicholas Day – This holiday is popular in European countries and is celebrated on December 6th, the day of the death of St. Nicholas. This holiday is celebrated to honor the man famous for his good deeds and altruistic nature. One of the most well-known stories tells the tale of how St. Nicholas helped a very poor man and his three daughters. To save them from a dark fate due to their low economic status, St. Nicholas threw three bags of gold out a window and one landed in each of the shoes of the poor man’s daughters. Today, kids will set out one of their shoes hoping for gifts brought to them by St. Nicholas.
- Christmas – This one is familiar to many of us and while it shares some similarities to St. Nicholas Day, it has very different roots. Christmas takes place on the 25th of December and celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God. This is traditionally a Christian holiday and it is based on the biblical story os Jesus Christ. He was immaculately conceived by Mary and Joseph in a stable. He went on to spread the word of God, perform various miracles, and sacrificed for the sins of humanity.
- Boxing Day – Popular in New Zealand, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia, this holiday does not include a boxing match in a ring with big red gloves. It happens on December 26th and is rumored to have obscure beginnings. Story goes that this day became a holiday because many servants worked Christmas Day, had the following day off, and if they were lucky they received a gift from their employers. Today, many service people, such as mail carriers and tradesmen, have this day off where it is celebrated.
- Hanukkah – This is another religious holiday celebrated in December and is different because it is celebrated for eight days and nights. To Jewish, this holiday is also known as the Festival of Lights, and is celebrated to commemorate the rededication of the Second Temple in 165 BC. The person who ruled at this time had taken the temple from the Jewish and outlawed Judaism. The Jewish people organized a revolt, succeeded, and got their temple back. The temple required cleansing and this is where the famous Menorah comes in. The iconic candle holder needed to burn uninterrupted throughout eight consecutive nights in order to complete cleansing.
5. Kwanzaa – This December holiday strives to reconnect folks with their African heritage. Younger than other celebrations, Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Mualana Kareng, a professor of African studies, author, and activist. It is celebrated from December 26th to January 1st and involves a lot of music and love to share. Each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to a different principal – responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.