Holidays Around the World

People all over the world each year celebrate different winter holidays.


Robert Thiemann on Unsplash

A Menorah is a big symbol for ones who celebrate Hanukkah. It symbolizes the ideal of universal enlightenment.

Around the world, there are a variety of winter holidays that people celebrate and each has significance. Typically, when Americans think of the holidays, we think of Christmas. The reason for this is the most common religion in the U.S. is Christianity. Some of the most popular winter holidays are Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Day.

One of the most popular holiday flowers is the poinsettia. They are used as décor, gifts, and to symbolize good cheer and success .

Christmas is celebrated by Christians. It is the 2nd most celebrated holiday by more than 160 countries. It takes place on the 25th of December each year, and the day before is called Christmas Eve. Christmas is significant because it represents the Birth of Jesus Christ, and subsequently him being brought into the world. One of the most popular ideas that comes to one’s head while hearing the word Christmas is the thought of presents. Giving and receiving presents on Christmas is one of the many traditions we are familiar with. Mattie Smith, student at Lafayette High School, has a favorite Christmas tradition. “My favorite tradition is going to Celebration and Lights in Newport News Park,” she says.

What about Christmas pickles? This American tradition of hiding the green ornament in the tree so that the first child to find it wins a gift or gets to open the first present Christmas morning. Many believe this tradition grew out of a Woolworths advertising campaign from the late 1800s when the retailer acquired imported ornaments shaped like pickles from Germany and needed a way to sell them.

Snowmen are very popular snow structures, often kids will attempt to build them when it snows. People will also use snowmen themed décor around their house.

The Rockettes annual Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall has been taking place for almost a hundred years. Since 1925, the dance troupe, first known as the Missouri Rockets, became the Rockettes in 1934. In the years following, they have performed all over the country. Especially at Christmas, their performances are second to none that Americans go to see during the holidays year after year.

Cookies and milk for Santa are a Christmas Eve tradition in most homes throughout the US. How did this sweet treat tradition get started? Leaving treats for Santa and the reindeer dates way back to Norse mythology, Americans began the sweet tradition in the 1930s during the Great Depression, as a sign of showing gratitude during a time of hardship.

Today, there is a large variety of different size and color trees one can purchase. Every tree is more unique than how it was fifty years ago. It helps that there is so many different types of ornaments you can use.

Many traditions we celebrate in the US originated in other countries and are still practiced in those countries as well as ours. Christmas cards first caught on in England in the mid-1800s. The Hall brothers founded the company Hallmark, and the practice caught on in the US and around the world. Today, it is estimated that 1.6 billion holiday cards are sold each year. Robert Krasche, retired Lieutenant Colonel from the Airforce, has a strong opinion about what holiday tradition is the best. “The best holiday tradition is decorating the Christmas tree with family,” he said.

Candy Canes are the number one selling non-chocolate candy in December. They originated in Germany in the 1670s. These tasty red and white treats arrived on US soil in 1847, in Wooster, Ohio, when a German-Swedish immigrant hung them on their tree. By the 1950s candy cane-making machines were invented and the rest is sweet and minty history.

The celebration of Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, but one of the cultural celebrations that focus on spirituality. A lot of people believe that Kwanzaa is an ancient holiday, but it has only been around since 1966. This holiday combines many traditions from the Zulu and Ashanti peoples. It is a seven-day celebration, each day celebrating the seven core principles called Nguzo Saba, that makeup Kwanzaa. People celebrating are encouraged to express their unique heritage through African print fabrics, symbols, art, and other creative forms of expression. It is said Kwanzaa carries a deep meaning of joy, peace, and unity throughout diverse cultural heritages for those who celebrate it.

Hanukkah is another holiday that is celebrated in the US as well as in other parts of the world. Like Christmas, Hanukkah is a religious celebration. It is celebrated over eight days, lighting candles on the menorah each day. Blessings and songs are recited for the lighting of each candle. The menorah is placed in a window or doorway for those outside to see. It is said that gift-giving is an American Jewish tradition and not historically part of Hanukkah at all.

Seeing fireworks is a very common celebration on holidays. Especially, in the US during New Years and Fourth of July!

One holiday remains recognized worldwide.  New Years’ Eve is celebrated by coming together for festivities whether they be in crowed venues complete with fireworks and entertainment; or small gatherings in one’s home. In Asia, the streets come alive at the stroke of midnight with loud firecrackers and in the US, the famous ball drops in Times Square to ring in the New Year. New Years day has many celebrations with food, games, and families, that are repeated year after year