It’s the most wonderful time of the year — and maybe the busiest! Wherever in the world you are, the holidays bring joy and celebration to all. But depending where you are, the celebration may be different than what you’re used to.
The world’s true beauty is the variety of cultures and traditions around the globe. While traveling, my favorite pastime is indulging in different countries’ history, traditions, and festivities!
Knowing about holiday traditions can help you see diverse cultures in a new light and share in celebrations with friends who may recognize different holidays than you do.
In the spirit of the holiday season, let’s take a tour of some holiday traditions around the world:
When: December 18-26, 2022 / December 7-15, 2023. December 25, 2024-January 2, 2025; December 14-22, 2025
About: For eight days toward the end of the year, people who celebrate Hanukkah light candles on a menorah to remember an ancient miracle in which one day’s worth of oil burned for eight days in their temple. Celebrations often include eating latkes (potato pancakes), singing songs, and playing with a spinning top called a dreidel to win delicious snacks!
Locations Celebrated: Eastern Europe, India, Yemen, Israel, Turkey, Morocco, United States, and more!
St. Nicholas Day
When: December 6, annually
About: On this holiday, people pay tribute to a St. Nicholas, a man who spent most of his life helping others in need. There are many stories about the good deeds that St. Nicholas did, including one of passing gold along to a poor family to save them from a struggling future. The story says that the gold was tossed through a window and landed in their shoes! Today, children celebrate by placing a shoe outside their doors in hopes of finding treasures in the morning.
Locations Celebrated: Europe, Middle East, and North America
When: December 25, annually
About: Christmas is a religious holiday that recognizes the birth of Jesus Christ. That is why the word begins with His Name. This holiday is celebrated by over two million people worldwide, traditionally with a Christmas tree and gifts. In different parts of the world, delicate gifts are made and sold at Christmas markets. Some countries celebrate this holiday on a different day than specified above. My husband’s family, for example, celebrate it on January 7.
Locations Celebrated: About 160 countries, although traditions may vary
When: December 26, annually
About: Boxing Day originated because tradesmen and servants traditionally worked on Christmas Day. Employers gave them tokens of appreciation for their service after their shift. Mail carriers, hairdressers, and maids are often given gifts of gratitude on this day. There’s another tradition of this holiday that includes the donation of gifts collected by churches for families.
Locations Celebrated: Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and New Zealand
When: December 26 – January 1, annually
This holiday celebrates and honors African culture. Rooted from traditional beliefs, people gather together to celebrate seven principles over the course of seven days. On each day, families partake in Kwanzaa-related practices or mix elements in with their Christmas celebrations. Gifts for family members are traditionally homemade or educational.
Locations Celebrated: United States
Chinese New Year
When: February 1, 2022; January 22, 2023; February 10, 2024; January 29, 2025
About: Also known of the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, Chinese New Year is a celebration that typically lasts for multiple weeks. Before celebrating, people clean their houses to rid themselves of bad luck. This festivity is a time to visit family, display decorations, shop, watch fireworks, and enjoy time off.
Locations Celebrated: China, Korea, Vietnam, and other Asian countries
There are many holidays around the world and we are so fortunate to learn and take part in each others’ shared traditions. Hopefully this holiday season will bring light and love to your home and the homes around the world.
Merry everything and have a happy always no matter where in the world you are!