Holidays Around the World
This time of year, when we think of the ‘Holiday’s, we often make the mistake of thinking only of the ones that we celebrate when there are so many more going on around the world. We tend to think of Christmas and New Years, but really, what’s happening in other countries? What do they celebrate? What do they believe in? What are those people like? We’re going to talk about a few holidays around the world, and right here in the United States. Some of these you have undoubtedly heard of, and some might be entirely new to you.
Hanukkah – Starting with a Familiar One
Yep, you’ve heard of Hanukkah at one point or another and it is a celebration that lasts or eight days. These days are commemorated through a special candleholder known as a menorah, and the idea behind it is for them to remember a miracle from ancient times in which a single day’s worth of oil burned for eight in their temple. The temple may be long gone, but the tradition remains, and on Hanukkah, Jews around the world eat latkes, sing, and spin the dreidel to win various prizes.
The Ecuadorian New Year
Now here we have a really interesting tradition. In Ecuador, on December 31st, families will dress a straw man in old clothes which represents the old year. At midnight, they burn the straw man and hope that their troubles will disappear along with the old clothes. It would be remiss of us not to acknowledge some of the similarities between this and the Pagan holiday, Yule, in which notes containing items you wish to leave behind are burned in the fireplace or open fire, depending on the setting.
St. Lucia – Greetings from Sweden!
During this holiday, which is celebrated on December 13, girls in Sweden will often dress up as Lucia Bridges, meaning long white gowns, red sashes, and burning candles adorning a wreath on their heads.
Chinese New Year
You’ve heard of this before, even if you don’t know what it entails, or have never taken part in it. Chinese children dress in new clothes to celebrate this amazing and fun holiday. Along with the excitement of new clothes, people carry lanterns in a massive parade, headed by a silk dragon, which is the Chinese symbol of strength.
Kwanza – An American Holiday
The name Kwanza translates into ‘First Fruits’, and it is celebrated by African Americans who dress in traditional clothes while decorating their homes with fruits and vegetables. The theme of this holiday is family, life, and unity. It’s a great tradition and one that has definitely stood the test of time.
This is yet another one that you’ve heard of at one point or another and while you might associate it heavily with New Orleans, it is actually celebrated in England as Shrove Tuesday (celebrated by consuming pancakes). Additionally, Brazil’s Carnaval is very similar to America’s Mardi Gras, featuring parades and costumes.
Diwali – An Indian Holiday
Diwali is often known as the five day festival of lives, and it is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains all over the world. This festival coincides with the Hindu New year, celebrating a triumph of good over evil.
Wishing All of Our Neighbors Around the World a VERY Happy Holidays!