The holidays are almost here!
Most people in Australia celebrate Christmas as their go-to end of year holiday, but December is also home to many other holidays which are celebrated across the world (and right here!).
This year, the holidays which move a little each year (the Solstice and Yule) have lined up perfectly to give us a near-continuous stream of celebration from December 21 into the New Year. That means we have the opportunity for a ten-day stream of festivities (or 13, if you include our extended days in January).
So whether you’re curious about holidays in other cultures, you’re tired of the Christmas festivities already, or just looking for an extra way to celebrate at the end of the year, we’ve got you covered. Read on to see what holidays this December holds!
This 5-day festival is celebrated by Hindu people who want to celebrate Christmas in line with their beliefs. It began in 1981, and it’s celebrated in much the same way as Christmas: there’s lots of food, people exchange gifts and cards, and show their love and appreciation for the people they care about. Each day of the festival is associated with a different colour, and with love and harmony among different groups of people in your life.
Yalda Night is an Iranian festival which happens on the night of the Northern Hemisphere’s Winter Solstice, celebrating the longest and darkest night of the year. Here in the Southern Hemisphere, this is the day of the Summer Solstice: our longest day of the year. It’s an important day for people of pagan and many indigenous faiths across the world, and it’s often celebrated with ancient rituals, feasts, and dancing.
This holiday was invented in the 1997 season of Seinfeld, in which George Costanza and his father celebrate the day as a protest to the commercialism of Christmas. In the show, they celebrate by eating meatloaf, erecting a Festivus pole, and airing their grievances to each other around the dinner table.
In Australia, we often celebrate Christmas Eve by preparing food for the next day, doing last minute Christmas shopping (if we can find shops that are still open), and watching our state capitol’s Christmas carols on TV (or live if we’re really lucky). At the end of the day, the kids go to bed early to give Santa a chance to come, and the adults celebrate their few precious moments of peace and quiet (or go to bed early as well).
Christmas is by far the biggest holiday of the year. It’s celebrated in more than 160 countries worldwide, and each culture likes to celebrate in their own special way. Most Australians spend the day in the sun with family and friends, eat a lot of Christmas foods, and exchange gifts, with many people also attending religious ceremonies.
December 26 gives us two important holidays: Boxing day, and Zartosht No-Diso.
Most of us are familiar with Boxing Day: It’s a day for the biggest and most chaotic sales of the year. Many people celebrate this day by fighting each other for deals in their local Westfield, and some others use this day as a chance to return their unwanted Christmas presents to the store.
A more relaxing holiday on this day is Zartosht No-Diso. People of the Zoroastrian religion celebrate this day by offering prayers and visiting fire temples in memory of the prophet Zoroaster, who lived and died somewhere between 1500 and 1000 BC.
Yule begins on the 22nd with the solstice, but it continues to January 2nd which gives us a chance to celebrate it along with all of December’s other holidays. It was first celebrated by Germanic and Pagan people of southern Scandinavia, but eventually migrated throughout a lot of Europe. People often celebrate this day with prayers, feasting, and the burning of a Yule Log (which is where we get our modern tradition of Christmas trees from).
Like the Yule festival, Kwanzaa doesn’t encompass just one day of the year. This annual celebration of African heritage and culture goes from December 26 to January 1 (so this day is in the middle somewhere) and it’s generally celebrated with dancing, singing, gift giving, and a big feast at the end. It’s most popular in the USA and many nations in Africa, but plenty of Australian families also celebrate this holiday.
This isn’t an official holiday, but it really should be. Other than the extended festivals of Yule and Kwanzaa, this quiet Sunday is home to no official holidays or official commitments, which makes it the perfect day to relax, eat the leftovers from your previous 8 days of feasting, clean your house, recover from all the recent social interaction, and start preparing for the last leg of the holiday schedule. You’re almost to the end of the season!
This day celebrates the end of the Jewish festival Hanukkah, which began on the 22nd and celebrates the rededication of Jerusalem’s second Jewish temple in about 160 AD. Jewish families celebrate by lighting the last candle on their menorah, playing games as a family, and eating traditional foods.
New Year’s Eve is home to another of the year’s biggest parties. It’s often celebrated with a midnight countdown, fireworks when the clock strikes 12, and an all-night party until dawn (or until everyone is too tired to stay awake). It’s celebrated all across the world in many countries and cultures, and it wraps up the December holiday schedule!
Still anxious to party?
Don't worry, there's still a few more days you can celebrate after 2020 begins. if you're not tired out from the holiday season yet, you can try celebrating some of these dates.
Jan. 1: New Year’s Day/End of Kwanzaa
Celebrate by spending the day in bed regretting the actions of last night and making (or breaking) your New Year’s resolutions. This is also the last day of the 8-day Kwanzaa festival, which you can celebrate with more feasting (or eating more leftovers from your previous feasts).
Jan 2: End of Yule
This is the last day of the 12-day Yule festival, and your last chance for a festive feast. You can celebrate by preparing another feast for yourself, or by finishing off the leftovers from your previous feasts.
Jan 3: Recovery Day
This is another unofficial holiday that we made up, but it’s one that’s sorely deserved after the past two weeks of celebration. Use this day like you would use the Day of Peace and Quiet on December 29, and spend the day resting, re-organising your house, freezing the last leftovers from your feasts for later on (or eating them all at once, we won't judge), and preparing to get back to work.
We'll be back soon!
Whatever holidays you’re celebrating this season, We wish you all the best! We’ll be off celebrating with our friends and families from December 20 to January 13, and we look forward to hearing from you once we’re back. Happy Holidays from Vividus!