If you’re planning a holiday vacation in December 2022, there are plenty of options to choose from in our December global holidays. You can do the obvious and head straight to the North Pole or pick a less-crowded destination and enjoy a different type of winter experience. Here’s our list of fantastic winter festivals worldwide—and one not-so-cold country—that will leave you with a warm feeling this holiday season.
1. World AIDS Day: December 1
What is World AIDS Day?
World AIDS Day is observed annually on December 1st and is among the December global holidays. The day aims to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and commemorate those who have died from the disease. It was first celebrated in 1988, when there was little public understanding of how the virus spread or effective treatments for it in many parts of the world. Now it’s possible to live long, healthy lives with HIV/AIDS if you receive proper medical care and take antiretroviral medication (ART) as prescribed by your doctor.
- There are more than 35 million people living with HIV globally — that’s one person infected every 18 seconds. 80% live in low- and middle-income countries where access to treatment services can be limited or nonexistent due to lack of funding, infrastructure challenges, the stigma associated with HIV infection, etc.* An estimated 1 million new cases are diagnosed annually — equivalent to 40 000 new infections every week.* 25% of these occur among young people aged 15–24 years old; however, this age group also accounts for almost half percent all deaths due to AIDS-related causes each year (UNAIDS).
2. Hanukkah (how to celebrate): December 18th – December 26th
Hanukkah, or Hanukkah, is an eight-day Jewish holiday that celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against Seleucid rule. It commemorates how one day’s worth of holy oil miraculously burned for eight days when it was found in a small flask. The miracle came to be known as “the miracle of the sun,” and lighting candles commemorate it each night of Hanukkah.
According to legend, during Antiochus’ persecution of Jews from 168 B.C., he defiled their temple with pagan statues and sacrificial implements. In 165 B.C., Judas Maccabeus led his army against Antiochus and won several battles against him before finally defeating him at Beth-Horon (2 Maccabees 12:31–34). After Judah died soon after this victory (1 Maccabees 4:45), Jonathan took over leadership of their forces until Simon assumed power after his death (1 Maccabees 14:40).
3. Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day: December 7th
Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is a day to remember the attack on Pearl Harbor. It’s observed on December 7th and is also known as Pearl Harbor Day.
This holiday commemorates both American and Japanese deaths that occurred during the surprise attack on December 7th, 1941.
On this day in history, more than 2,000 people lost their lives when Japan bombed Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor naval base. The bombing resulted in America entering World War II (WWII).
4. St. Lucia’s Day: December 13th
The 13th of December is the annual feast day of Saint Lucy (or Lucia), a Christian martyr who died in Syracuse, Sicily, during the 3rd century. The tradition of celebrating this December Global Holidays with particular foods, games, and customs has since spread to other Scandinavian countries.
Saint Lucia’s Day is celebrated annually on December 13th in Sweden and Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland. It is also known as Santa Lucia Day in Portuguese-speaking countries like Brazil and Portugal. In Argentina it’s called Día de las Velitas (“Candles Day”) or La Boda de la Virgen Malena (“The Wedding of Our Lady Malena”). As you might expect from its name (“The Wedding”), this traditional festival celebrates St. Nicholas’ marriage to Saint Epipodia on December 6th. This event is believed to have occurred on an island off Greece where they lived for seven years before moving back to Myra.”
5. International Human Solidarity Day: December 20th
International Human Solidarity Day is a United Nations observance day celebrated on December 20th and is on our list of December Global Holidays. It’s a day for people to show solidarity with people in need, and it serves as an opportunity to celebrate the contributions that refugees make when they’re allowed to participate in their host country’s economy.
6. Yule (How to Celebrate): December 21st
The winter solstice is when the sun shines at its lowest point in the sky. On this day, December 21st, the daylight hours are at their shortest. The word “solstice” comes from Latin and means “sun standing still” because it marks when days start to get longer again after being shortest at mid-winter.
It’s also known as Yule or Midwinter Festival and has been celebrated for thousands of years. It was once believed that during this time, spirits and fairies were free to roam Earth—which meant that it could be dangerous for people to go outside after dark! To protect themselves from these creatures (and any other potential threats), people lit huge bonfires or candles called Jack o’Lanterns on rooftops to see them better during their late-night walks through town.
Yule celebrations usually involve food such as mince pies, hot chocolate, and bûche de Noël—a traditional French cake served on Christmas Eve with cream filling inside!
7. Winter Solstice: December 21st
Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year. It occurs on December 21st.
Winter Solstice is a pagan holiday that marks the longest night of winter and the start of longer days ahead. Winter Solstice is also known as Yule, Midwinter, or Christmas Eve (in some countries). It’s an important celebration in many cultures worldwide — including Christianity and Judaism. However, it’s still considered a global holiday because everyone can celebrate it regardless of their religion.
8. Winter Solstice (How to Celebrate): December 21st
Winter Solstice, also known as Midwinter or Yule, is one of the most important festivals in the Northern Hemisphere. It marks the shortest day and longest night of the year and has been celebrated for thousands of years in many different cultures worldwide.
The Winter Solstice occurs every year on December 21st, when Earth’s axis tilts toward our sun and causes it to rise higher above our horizon. This celebration takes place on this date because it’s believed that this alignment with our star creates a sense of balance between lightness (white) and darkness (black).
On this day, we welcome the return of longer days after months spent under shorter days; we celebrate thanksgiving for all that has been provided during these cold months; we reflect on accomplishments made over time; we spend time with loved ones; we give gifts to family members and friends; we have a special meal together (which often includes turkey).
9. Christmas Eve: December 24
It’s Christmas Eve!
Christmas Eve is the day before Christmas Day, and it’s celebrated all over the world. The word “Eve” comes from a Germanic word meaning evening. Christmas Eve is also known as the “Eve of Saint Stephen,” Stephen is the first martyr for Christ’s sake (spoiler alert). So if you’re not celebrating Hanukkah or Kwanzaa this year but still want to feel like you’re part of something special, take some time to light a candle and reflect on what this holiday season means. You may even want to get in touch with some family members who are far away—it would do them good to hear from you too!
10. Christmas Day (How to Celebrate): December 25th
Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It is celebrated on December 25th and is the most important day of the year for Christians worldwide.
Many countries worldwide observe Christmas Day with varying customs, traditions, and religious observances that are generally centered on mutual gifts, food, and celebrations with family members.
11. Boxing Day (How to Celebrate): December 26th
Boxing Day is a holiday widely celebrated in almost all countries with British heritage and is among the list of December Global Holidays. Although it’s always observed on December 26th, you might see Boxing Day written as 26th December or even just 26th.
According to tradition, Boxing Day was originally when their employers gave servants their Christmas boxes. Today, many people still refer to any gift they receive during the holidays as a “Christmas box.” The holiday has become so popular that it now includes everything from gift exchanges between friends and family members (who can be anyone) to the exchange of presents between pets and their owners!
12. St. Stephen’s Day: December 26th
St. Stephen’s Day is a Christian feast celebrated on December 26 and is also among the December global holidays. It commemorates St. Stephen, an early Christian martyr and the first deacon of the Early Church. Christian communities traditionally marked the feast day with fasting, prayer, and almsgiving to assist the poor. The celebration of Saint Stephen’s Day remains popular among Christians in Ireland, England, and Scotland but less so among those in other countries where it has been superseded by other holidays such as Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve.*
13. Kwanzaa: December 26 to January 1
Kwanzaa is a celebration of African-American heritage. It takes place between December 26 and January 1, and it originated in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, an American professor who created this holiday to celebrate the birth of African-American culture. Kwanzaa celebrates family, community, and culture.
Kwanzaa also celebrates seven principles: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (creativity), Imani/Ikhaya (faith).
14. New Years’ Eve: December 31st
New Year’s Eve is the last day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. It is also known as Old Year’s Day, or Hogmanay, and is held on December 31st.
This holiday celebrates the passing of each year and welcomes a new one with celebrations, parties, family gatherings, and fireworks displays across many countries worldwide.
15. Krampusnacht: December 5th
Krampusnacht (Krampus Night) is a German pagan holiday that falls on December 5th. It’s celebrated as part of St. Nicholas’ Day, the feast day of Santa Claus in the Northern Hemisphere.
The Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure who accompanies St. Nicholas and punishes terrible children by hitting them with birch rods or giving them bags full of coal for their misbehavior during the year. In some versions of this legend, he carries a rattle made from sheep vertebrae instead of a birch rod.
In recent years this holiday has become popular in America and other countries such as Austria, where they celebrate it as Krampustag (Krampus Day). There are many ways to celebrate this tradition, including parades with costumed performers known as Krampusse marching through town streets dressed up like monsters, complete with long horns protruding from their heads and red fur covering their bodies along with cowbells around their waists which jingle when they move about so everyone knows when these creatures are nearby!
16. Bodhi Day: December 8th
Bodhi Day is a Buddhist holiday that falls on the 8th day of the 12th month of the Tibetan calendar. It is observed by some Buddhists as a day of meditation and reflection, particularly on the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. The date was chosen because it’s believed to be when Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. Bodhi means “awakening” or “enlightenment,” while Dakini is an epithet for either a female deity or celestial being in Tibetan Buddhism.
The rest of this article will provide more information about Bodhi Day, including what it celebrates, where it’s celebrated, and how to celebrate it yourself if you’re interested!
17. Feast of the Immaculate: December 8th
Feast of the Immaculate
The Feast of the Immaculate is a Catholic feast day celebrating the Virgin Mary, who was believed to be conceived without original sin. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is also celebrated on December 8, but it’s a different holiday than this one.
18. Human Rights Day: December 10th
Human Rights Day is a UN holiday that takes place on December 10th every year. It’s a day to remember the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and celebrate human rights. This year, it will also be celebrating its 70th anniversary and the 60th anniversary of the International Bill of Human Rights.
While everyone can enjoy this day and learn more about their rights, there are many people around the world who may not have access to information about these things or even know what they are entitled to by law. That’s why Human Rights Day is an important occasion for us all to reflect on how far we’ve come in protecting these fundamental principles, which have been so instrumental in shaping our societies today.
We hope you enjoyed this list of the December global holidays! Happy celebrating, and have a wonderful holiday season.
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