Bodhi Day – Celebrated among Buddhists, Bodhi Day commemorates the historical day The Buddha experienced Enlightenment. This Day of Enlightenment, observed on December 8th, is celebrated with additional meditation, studying Dharma, and performing acts of kindness.
Christmas – One of the most celebrated holidays throughout the world, Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ annually on December 25th. Traditionally, Christians celebrate this holiday by decorating a tree, having a feast, and exchanging gifts. In addition, Santa Claus, or Father Christmas, is associated with bringing gifts to children during this family holiday.
Saturnalia – This ancient Roman festival honored the god Saturn. Originally held on December 17th of the Julian calendar, this holiday expanded to an 8 days festival ending on December 23rd. Private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere were traditional aspects of this holiday!
Festivus – “A Festivus for the rest of us.” This fictional holiday was originally created for the sitcom Seinfeld but later gained in popularity after the 1997 episode. As depicted on the show, the holiday is celebrated on December 23rd and includes a Festivus dinner and labeling “Festivus miracles.”
Hanukkah – The 8-day Jewish Holiday is celebrated on the 25th of Kislev. Hanukkah, the Hebrew word for “dedication,” refers to the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Traditionally the holiday is celebrated with eating fried food, lighting the menorah, and playing with dreidels.
Yalda Night – This Iranian festival, observed on December 20th or 21st, celebrates the “longest and darkest night of the year.” During this holiday, friends and family gather together to stay awake all night eating, drinking and reading poetry. Traditional food includes fruits, nuts, pomegranates, and watermelon. The red color of the fruit symbolizes the glow of life.
Kwanzaa – This week-long celebration is held in the United States and in other nations of the West African diaspora in the Americas. The celebration honors African heritage and is observed from December 26th through January 1st. Kwanzaa is celebrated with a feast and gift exchange. Families who celebrate this holiday decorate their households with objects of art, colorful African cloth and wearing traditional clothing.
New Year’s Eve – The last day of the year is celebrated on December 31st. In many cultures, New Year’s Eve is celebrated with social gatherings, where people dance, drink and eat while watching fireworks to welcome the New Year.
Chalica – This holiday is celebrated by Unitarian Universalists. The holiday starts on the first Monday in December and lasts 7 days. Each of the 7 nights represents a different principle of Unitarian Universalism. A chalice is ignited each day while the day’s principle is being read and honored. Traditionally there are seven candles around the chalice that represent each of the principles. Those who celebrate participate in group activities such as discussions and singing songs.
Lunar New Year – Depending on the lunar calendar, this holiday can be celebrated from late January to mid-February. The holiday marks the end of winter and is celebrated by Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Mongolian, Tibetan, and Japanese cultures.