As the days get shorter and the weather grows colder, global holidays in December keep our spirits warm and make the days merry. As you explore what holidays are celebrated in December around the world, you can add to your own personal traditions and discover a new appreciation for other cultures. There are some specific Mexican holidays that make winter warm, but the country also celebrates similar holidays as other parts of the world do. Since many of the December holidays around the world celebrate family and hope, you’ll find that we all have more in common than you thought.
One of the global holidays in December that’s often overlooked is World AIDS Day. Since 1988, December 1 has been set as a date for raising awareness about AIDS and mourning those who have lost their lives fighting the disease. Many people wear red ribbons to show solidarity with those living with HIV and AIDS, and it's a good reminder to be regularly tested for AIDS and other diseases. While it’s not one of the most festive December holidays around the world, World AIDS Day has broken down stigmas and raised awareness about the disease.
The Virgin of Guadalupe is the most important religious figure in the Catholic church of Mexico, and December 12 marks the day when she appeared to Juan Diego and the archbishop. While there are several religious Mexican holidays throughout the year, this is the most important, and in the first 12 days of December, families and community groups have processionals to cathedrals dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Of all the December global holidays, Christmas is celebrated in the majority of countries, and while it traditionally marks the birth of Jesus, it’s become a symbol of joy and hope for people regardless of religious affiliation. There are songs, movies, and decorations for Christmas, and traditions range from decorating trees to lighting advent candles. No matter where you go in the world, this is one of the global holidays in December you’ll see. However, every country has their own unique Christmas traditions to experience, and for the Mexican holidays, brightly colored piñatas are broken open and hot tamales are eaten.
As you look at the list of what holidays are celebrated in December, you’ll find opportunities to learn about different cultures and religious, and Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights, which stems from ancient stories of the Jewish temple and celebrates their heritage. Unlike other December global holidays, Hanukkah is observed for eight days and nights, with an additional candle on the menorah lit each evening. To celebrate the holiday, there are traditional songs, games, and dances, just as there are for other December holidays around the world.
From December 26-January 1, Kwanzaa celebrates African-American heritage, and unlike some of the other December global holidays, this one was first celebrated in 1966. It does include lighting candles, specifically black, red, and green ones to represent the pan-African flag. With the daily lighting of the candles is a different value to reflect on: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Kwanzaa is also a time for families to come together for festive meals and gift giving.
The list of what holidays are celebrated in December around the world would be incomplete without the final one: New Year’s Eve. While cultures have their different practices, they all believe that it’s a time to get rid of the old and welcome in the new. By cleaning out the house and writing down resolutions, people prepare for a fresh start in the new year. As the night ends, families and friends countdown the final seconds of the day, and in many parts of the world, fireworks light up the sky at midnight.