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December Holidays Around the World

For many cultures, December is a time for celebrations. Unknown to most of us there is a vibrant mix of cultural, religious, and regional celebrations across the world, all of which happen in December. This month offers so many of us a moment to take part in traditions which reflect our cultures. Learning about different December holidays offers a glimpse into the history, beliefs and values held by cultures around the world.

Intercultural Competence: Understanding through Celebrations

Such learning is one of the key pieces for the development of intercultural competence. When we learn about each other and our customs, we can develop deeper understanding, and respect for traditions that are unfamiliar to us.

New Years is of course known around the world. As is Christmas, when Christians worldwide celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th. Let’s take a look at some other December holidays:

Exploring December Holidays and Traditions

  • Hanukkah: Also known as the Festival of Lights, it’s an eight-day Jewish celebration usually falling in December. It commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.
  • Kwanzaa: Observed by many African Americans from December 26th to January 1st, celebrating African heritage, unity, and culture.
  • Boxing Day: Traditionally celebrated on December 26th in various countries, including the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It originated as a day for giving gifts to the less fortunate.
  • Las Posadas (December 16-24) – A Mexican tradition reenacting Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging before Jesus’ birth, celebrated through processions, music, and parties.
  • Saint Nicholas Day (December 5 or 6) – Celebrated in various European countries, particularly in the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium, where children receive gifts from St. Nicholas or Sinterklaas.
  • Bodhi Day (December 8) – Celebrated by Buddhists, it commemorates the day when Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment and became the Buddha.
  • Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12) – A significant Mexican religious holiday honoring the Virgin Mary, patroness of the Americas.
  • Yule (December 21) – A Pagan celebration of the winter solstice, often observed with feasting, bonfires, and traditional rituals.
  • Saturnalia (December 17-23) – An ancient Roman festival honoring the god Saturn, characterized by feasting, gift-giving, and revelry.
  • Dongzhi Festival (December 21 or 22) – Celebrated in East Asia, particularly in China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, marking the winter solstice with family reunions and eating tangyuan (sweet rice balls).
  • Mawlid al-Nabi – Observed by Muslims to commemorate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, usually celebrated in the month of Rabi’ al-Awwal, which often falls in December.
  • Pancha Ganapati (December 21-25) – A modern Hindu festival celebrated by Hindus worldwide, focusing on the worship of Lord Ganesha and promoting family harmony.

The Significance of Intercultural Competence

This list is not representative of every religion, culture, or region. It does however serve as an example for the wealth of traditions we have in our world. We can also use this list as an opportunity to explore and appreciate a variety of customs that are more accessible than ever. 

December Celebrations: Beyond Boundaries

Enhancing intercultural competence isn’t merely an undertaking in cultural understanding; it’s a strategic investment, enabling businesses and individuals to navigate the complexities of a diverse global landscape, fostering collaboration, and expanding market reach. If you’re curious about other ways in which intercultural competence can give you access to a wealth of benefits, reach out for a free 30-minute chat today.

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