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12 global festivities in December

December has become synonymous of Christmas, and New Year. But there are many other celebrations taking place around the world.

Many of these holidays are related to the winter solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere), which varies between Dec 20-22 each year.

Some religions, like Islam, use a lunar calendar which means their celebrations occur about 12 days earlier each year in the Gregorian calendar.

Below are some other holidays, festivities, and cultural traditions that people also celebrate around December each year, or celebrate to mark an ending or new beginning.

This list is not exhaustive - if you have any more information about any of these holidays or festivals, please feel free to provide feedback! Knowledge is power :)

Mawlid - Oct 18

In 2021, this began in the evening of 18 Oct and ends in the evening of 19 Oct.

Usually lasting 1-2 days, this date celebrates the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Feast of St. Nicholas - Dec 6 / Dec 19

Dec 6 in Western countries, and 19 Dec in Eastern countries.

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This is the origin of the tale of Santa Claus, and is celebrated by Christians.

The figure of St Nicholas was born in the third century AD and it is said he used his inheritance to help the poor.

He died on December 6, and the anniversary of his death soon became a day of celebration.

Bodhi Day - Dec 8
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Also referred to as the Day of Enlightenment, celebrated by Buddhists across much of south-east Asia (including India, China, and Vietnam).

It represents the day that Buddha experienced enlightenment when meditating beneath a Bodhi tree, leading to the discovery of the eightfold path and the fore noble truths which now form the core of Buddhist beliefs.

Hanukkah - 28 Nov to 6 Dec 2021

The Jewish Festival of Lights commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple after it was looted by King Antiochus of Syria.

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It is celebrated for eight nights and days, and usually falls in the month of December.

According to tradition, in the middle of the destruction, the people found enough oil to light the menorah (a candelabrum) but the supply lasted for eight days - enough time for more oil to be procured.

Las Posadas - Dec 16 to 24 Dec 2021

A celebration that involves re-enacting Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlahem.

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Children go through the village streets asking for an inn for 'Jose' and 'Maria' in the days before Christmas.

It is a popular tradition in Latin America, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Cuba, Spain and the Hispanic community.

Solstice - Dec 22, 2021
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Officially the first day of winter in the astronomical calendar, this is the day with the shortest period of daylight and is the longest night of the year.

Ancient cultures and rituals mark the summer and winter solstice and, for many, this is the beginning of the return to the sun, darkness turning to light, birth and rebirth.

  • In England, people flock to the site of Stonehenge for sacred worship, song, and dance.

  • Peruvians stage mock Incan sacrifices to celebrate the Sun Festival.

  • In China, people celebrate with rice ball dumplings to celebrate Dongzhi (Winter Arrives).

  • Iranians wait up for the sun to rise, marking the end of evil during the festival of Shab-e Yalda (Night of Birth).

  • Many atheist in Western cultures have began to celebrate this holiday.


Yule is a midwinter festival celebrated by Germanic people, wiccans, and some pagans.

It is a celebration to the Norse God, Odin and a Pagan holiday called Modraniht.

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It revolves around thanking the Gods and Goddesses for what you have, as well as celebrating nature and its changes.

Yule is celebrated for twelve days, starting on the Winter Solstice.

Human Light - Dec 23
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A humanist holiday, this was first celebrated in 2001.

It is designed to celebrate and express the positive human values of reason, compassion, humanity, and hope.

Christmas - Dec 25
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A festive Christian season celebrating the Nativity of Jesus Christ, in more Western ecclesiastical traditions.

The ancient Christians took over Saturnalia, an ancient Roman Pagan seven day festival of Saturn which started on DEC-17 and used it to commemorate the birth of Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ). Internal evidence in the Bible indicates that he was born in the Fall between 4 and 7 BCE.

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Celebrated by Nova Romans/Romana, neopagans who worship the ancient gods of Rome and who celebrate the ancient Roman holy days.

Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival and holiday in honour of the god Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December.

Kwanzaa - Dec 26
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This holiday was launched in 1966 by Dr Maulana Karenga.

Lasting from Dec 26 to Jan 1, it is a week of celebration (popular in the United States) honouring African heritage in African-American culture.

Boxing Day - Dec 26

Originating in the UK, this was started as a day to give gratitude for services.

A popular UK custom is for tradespeople to collect 'Christmas Boxes' of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year.

New Year's Eve - Dec 31
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The last day of the Gregorian calendar year is celebrated in the evening with social gatherings and festivities going past midnight into New Year's Day, January 1.

Hogmanay - Dec 31
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The Scottish word for the last day of the year, similar to New Year celebrations.

This holiday's origins go back to the celebration of the winter solstice among the Vikings with parties in late December, and normally lasts for 3 days.

Eid al-Fitr - 2 May to 3 May 2022
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Eid al-Fitr, is the earlier of the two official holidays celebrated within Islam.

It is celebrated by Muslims worldwide because it marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan

Chinese New Year - 1 Feb to 11 Feb 2022

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Chinese New Year (also referred to as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year) is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar.

2022 is the Year of the Tiger!


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