In the United States, we are lucky to have several amazing winter festivals and celebrations, like Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and others. However, there are some festivals celebrated during this time of year around the world that are certainly worth checking out--or even visiting!
Today, we are going to discuss the top five winter festivals and celebrations around the world that aren’t Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa.
Chinese New Year
As the mane states, Chinese New Year is the Chinese celebration of the coming of the new year according to the Lunar Calendar, instead of the Gregorian Calendar, which is what we follow in the United States. For the coming of 2020, the year of the rat, the festivities will begin on January 17th, and go all the way through February 8th, with the official New Year being rung in on January 25th, 2020!
In China, this celebration is heralded with a feast of authentic Chinese dishes and drinks, like Tu Su wine, as well as firecrackers and well-wishes.
El Día de los Reyes
El Día de los Reyes, or Three Kings’ Day, is a celebration by many Hispanic cultures. From Spain to Argentina, people celebrate the coming of the three wise men--or three kings--to baby Jesus on January 6th.
The festivities include more gift-giving, parades, and the Rosca de Reyes. This bread of the kings is a sweet treat that many enjoy during the celebrations. However, there is an even sweeter prize inside! Whoever gets the piece of bread with a Jesus figurine inside must prepare tamales for everyone around them on February 2nd!
Winter Solstice Celebrations
Long before Christmas, people around the world in countless cultures celebrated the Winter Solstice, the celebration of the Sun returning. The Solstice is the longest night of the year and is celebrated, in the Northern Hemisphere at least, on December 21st and December 22nd.
The celebrations vary from culture to culture, but one of the most famous is Saturnalia in Rome. In ancient times, the celebration lasted for seven days and takes on the intense energy of a Mardi Gras celebration, with citizens partying and enjoying the festivities in the streets around the city.
St. Lucia’s Day
Celebrated in Sweden, this festival celebrates one of the earliest martyrs of the church, St. Lucia or St. Lucy. The celebration takes place on December 13th and begins with the election of a St. Lucia, someone to represent the martyr in a parade through the streets.
After the parade, families gather in their homes and have one of their daughters dress in white and serve coffee and baked goods, like Saffron bread, to the family. The festivities serve as a time of hope during the coldest and darkest month of the year, as well at the beginning of the Christmas Season.
St. Nicholas Day
Another celebration for another saint on our list, this holiday is celebrated on December 6th and celebrates the life of a man in the third century who would become the inspiration for the Big Man in Red, Santa Claus, himself.
St. Nicholas lived in present-day Turkey, where he would leave small gifts for children in their shoes as they dried by the fire. This went on to be paired with the mythical creature Krampus, a German entity that would follow St. Nicholas around and punish bad children while St. Nicholas rewarded the good.
Today, children put out carrots for St. Nicholas’s reindeer on December 5th before they go to bed, then wake up to small gifts in place of the carrots.
There are countless reasons to celebrate this season. Whether you celebrate Christmas or the Winter Solstice or something in between, make sure to share the love this season.