Around the world, December is a special month that holds family and community traditions in utmost regard and brings people from all walks of life together in harmony. While Christmas may seem to be one of the biggest holidays of the season, there are dozens of different holiday traditions celebrated by a variety of cultures from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. Perhaps you want to spend the season traveling and experiencing new traditions, or perhaps you simply don’t celebrate Christmas and want to see what the rest of the world has to offer. Whatever it is that fuels that passion to explore new countries, the holiday season is a great time to experience the love and sense of community found throughout the globe.
Nine days prior to the traditional Christmas, Mexico celebrates Las Posadas to symbolize the journey of Mary and Joseph to the stable. Nativity scenes are reenacted in real life by children and adults, piñata’s are set, carols are sung and a feast is devoured. Mexico is indeed a lively party and a fun time for all when searching for that perfect balance of holiday and vacation.
Christmas time in England is a joyful season decked with holly, ivy and mistletoe in every corridor. December 24th is spent baking, caroling and throwing childrens wish lists on the Yule log in hopes they will receive their special gifts. While the streets of England are a ghost town on Christmas day, the following day is known as boxing day, one of the busiest shopping and sporting days of the year. The excitement surrounding the holidays in England can only be matched by celebrations that take place in New York City each year.
Following the ancient Julian calendar, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church doesn’t celebrate what they considered to be the birth of Christ until January 7th. Known as Ganna, many families will fast the day before and then feast on a traditional spicy stew of vegetables and meat. Twelve days later, the tradition known as Timkat celebrates the baptism of Christ and families again attend church and celebrate with games and lively music.
Hanukkah, the religious holiday connected with Judaism, typically begins late November to late December, coinciding with the 25th of Kislev in the Jewish calendar. Known as the festival of lights, Hanukkah is an eight day and night celebration marked by lighting candles each night, eating sufganiot (jelly donuts) and latkes (potato fritters) and watching children play with dreidels. Although not a Torah ordained holiday, the festival of lights has become widely celebrated throughout the Jewish community and across the globe.
Due to the history surrounding the city where Jesus was born, Bethlehem has taken to many western holiday traditions such as manger scenes, Christmas lighting and children’s plays. If you find yourself in the area for the holiday season, you’re always welcome to visit one of the many church services that will certainly be in session or catch up to one of the processions that will pass near and through the original site of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Regardless of your beliefs or traditions around the holiday season, there are a number of celebrations across the globe to experience and take part in. Whether you’re completing an advent calendar, lighting a Yule log or waiting for old St. Nick to grace you with Christmas gifts, the simple spirit of the holidays with all the lights, sounds and parties to attend are enough to lift even the Scroogiest of spirits. Also, traveling always helps. If you’re looking for a new tradition this holiday season, take a trip and experience the wonderful cultures throughout the world.