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The History of Winter Holidays

Updated: May 31, 2021

Happy Holidays! You might hear this greeting frequently around this time of year. It is used during the winter season to recognize the celebration of various holidays. Although some celebrations, like Christmas, are widely recognized during this time, there are several other holidays to appreciate and acknowledge. Let’s take a look at December holidays people around the world observe.

Some of these dates are not fixed to a calendar, but based on the sighting of the moon and therefore, there may be some variance by a day.

HOLIDAYFAITHDATE(S)Saint Nicholas’ Day: In the U.S., celebrated with children placing shoes in the foyer before bedtime for St. Nicholas to place coins in the soles.ChristianDec. 6 (Western Christian) Dec. 19 (Eastern Christian)Bodhi Day: Celebrates the day Buddha experienced enlightenmentBuddhistDec. 8Immaculate Conception of Mary: Celebrates conception of Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother, St. AnneChristianDec. 8Lama Tsong Khapa Day (Festival of Lights): Celebrated through meritorious prayers, meditation, and chantings.Tibetan BuddhistDec. 10Hanukkah (Festival of Lights): Commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, including through the lighting of candles on each night of the festival.JewishDec. 10 – 18Salgirah Khushiali: Birth of the Prince Karim Aga Khan, celebrates love, loyalty and devotion to their Imam.Ismaili IslamDec. 13Winter Solstice: Celebrated through ceremony to honor their ancient sun deityIndigenous/Native/Aboriginal PeoplesDec. 21Maun Agiyaras: Complete silence is observed, fasting is kept, and meditation performed.JainismDec. 21Pancha Ganapati: Five day festival in honor of GaneshaHinduDec. 21 – 25Christmas Eve: The evening before Christmas Day where preparations are made, midnight mass also observed.ChristianDec. 24Christmas: Celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Observed by prayers, exchanging of gifts, and family parties.ChristianDec. 25Zarathosht Diso (Death of Prophet Zarathushtra): Commemorates life and teachings of ZarathustraZoroastrianDec. 26Saint Stephen’s Day: Commemorates the first Christian martyr and the 2nd day of ChristmastideChristianDec. 26Kwanzaa: Weeklong celebration honoring African heritage in African-American culture.Interfaith/African AmericanDec. 26 – Jan. 1
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