List of all December global holidays and festivals in 2021

December global holidays

There is no doubt that whenever the month of December approaches, people worldwide start preparing for all kinds of festivities. It is the month with the highest number of holidays, which explains why most people like to have their vacations at this time of the year. December global holidays are celebrated all over the world to mark different events and causes.

December global holidays
A decorated street. Photo: @ambreenhasan
Source: UGC

December is the month most people celebrate finishing the calendar year in good health. Apart from marking the end of the year, the twelfth month of the year has a host of other holidays that are of great importance to humanity. The December holidays around the world encompass themes like health, religion, and friendship.

December global holidays

Party animals live for December because it is the time of the year they can make merry without stressing about anything else. Even the religious holidays in December are unlike any other as congregants prepare feasts to share with others.

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Even though some of these holidays can be associated with specific cultures, many other people have also adopted them as cultures continue to mix. They include:

1. Hanukkah (November 28-December 6)

There is no better way to kick-start your December with a weeklong holiday in the name of Hanukkah, which is like all the December holidays in one word. It is a Jewish festival celebrated by Israeli and Jewish communities worldwide to commemorate the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

The festival is sometimes referred to as Chanukah as well as the Festival of Lights. Traditionally, this festival begins on the 25th day of the month of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar but the exact day varies depending on the Gregorian calendar.

To celebrate the festival, candles are lit every night for the entire eight days. Memorable songs are also sung, and the Hallel prayer is recited. During the celebrations, oil-dried foods such as potato pancakes are eaten.

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2. World AIDS Day (December 1)

This is the first of the national holidays in December that are not religious. Instead, it is celebrated to raise awareness of the scourge of HIV/AIDS. The idea to celebrate this day was first suggested by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter in August 1987. They both worked as public information officers for the WHO”s Global Programme on AIDS.

The first time World AIDS Day was celebrated was on December 1 1988, and it has been celebrated annually ever since. Apart from raising awareness of the scourge of the disease, the day is also set aside to commemorate both those infected and or affected by the disease. Activities on the day include visiting children orphaned by the disease, advocating for the end of stigmatization, and sponsoring safe-sex campaigns.

3. Santa Lucia (December 13)

This is a religious holiday established as a tribute to Lucia of Syracuse. The holiday is common in Italy and Scandinavia. Santa Lucia was an Italian Saint who died as a martyr. Those who celebrate the holiday view her as a figure of light in the darkest time of the year.

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She has continued to be seen as a symbol of light and hope by Christian communities worldwide. Santa Lucia is celebrated on December 13, and atmospheric concerts and processions mark the occasion. Singers tend to wear white outfits and headdresses containing actual flickering candles.

December global holidays
A group of people celebrating the Santa Lucia festival. Photo: @adigold1
Source: UGC

4. Yule (December 21 – January 1)

Yule is a pagan festival celebrated to pay tribute to the Norse god Odin. It is common in Germany and among German communities all around the world. Another name for the pagan festival is Yuletide and has its origins in the Anglo-Saxon celebration of Modraniht. It is among the most popular winter holidays around the world.

Traditionally, Yule was marked by lighting massive logs in a bonfire and staying the entire night outdoors. This practise continues today, but other ways like building a Yule altar, evergreen Yule wreath or even giving back to mother nature have also come up. Nature-based gifts are also exchanged during this time.

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5. Festivus (December 23)

Celebrated on December 23, Festivus is marked to advocate against Christmas consumerism. The parody holiday is typical in the United States, but it is also celebrated worldwide. The holiday was adopted by popular culture in 1997 after being promoted by an episode of the Seinfeld show titled The Strike. The holiday is marked by people opposed to the spending spree occasioned on Christmas.

Instead of buying the expensive Christmas tree, Festivus supporters stand around a plain aluminium pole as they engage in activities like airing grievances and feats of strength. As a result, the holiday has received backlash from pundits who believe those supporting it have unreasonable views about Christmas. However, this has not stopped the holiday from gaining popularity.

6. Christmas (December 25)

When it comes to religious celebrations in December, Christmas is by far the most common. It is a holiday marked by the majority of Christians to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. According to Christians, Christ is the son of God, and the last true prophet sent to save humanity from sin. Due to its popularity, the day is generally celebrated not only by Christians but also by non-Christians.

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Even though December 25 is the day chosen to commemorate this holiday, the actual date of Jesus’ birth is not known. Therefore, this day was only picked because it corresponds with the winter solstice in the Roman calendar. Typically, it is celebrated by attending church services, exchanging gifts and partaking in feasts.

7. Boxing Day (December 26)

December global holidays
Wrapped gifts on a brown wooden table. Photo: @erwanhesry
Source: UGC

It is a public holiday whose symbolism varies and is celebrated worldwide. There is no consensus on how Boxing Day came into being like a holiday. To some, it marks the official day when churches used to gift alms boxes to the poor after Christmas. Others believe the holiday was set aside to gift errand boys, postmen and all kinds of servants as a way of appreciating their effort throughout the year.

Regardless of what it symbolizes, Boxing Day is perhaps the second most favourite December holiday after Christmas. It is a public holiday in several countries, including Australia, the UK, Canada and New Zealand. The most common activities are sporting events.

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8. Kwanzaa (December 26 – January 1)

Kwanzaa is a holiday meant for celebrating and preserving specific African values. It is based on African history but is majorly celebrated in the United States. Dr Maulana Karenga created it in 1966 after the Watts riots of Los Angeles, California. It is one of the most famous ethnic holidays in December.

Kwanzaa is derived from the Swahili word ‘kwanza’, which means first. In the case of this holiday, the name is borrowed from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza”, meaning “the first fruits.” The activities of this holiday include traditional African songs and dances. Others include poetry, storytelling, and discussions centred on African principles.

9. New Year’s Eve (December 31)

This is the last holiday of December celebrated to mark the end of the year. It is celebrated all over the world by people regardless of religious or cultural affiliations. The importance of this holiday is not only to bid bye to the ending year but also to usher in a new one.

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There are many ways New Year’s Eve is celebrated, including attending church services and observing New Year’s Eve in areas like pubs, restaurants or other social gatherings. Most people stay up until midnight to welcome the New Year with song, dance and fireworks.

The December global holidays and festivals list is endless, but some are more famous than others. Many of these holidays came into being after a resolution of bodies like the United Nations, while others originated from cultures that disintegrated with others. However, most holidays around the world in December are about celebrating life, so people celebrate them regardless of whether they are from their cultures.

Tuko.co.ke shared an interesting article about the complete list of Gazetted public holidays in Kenya in 2021. Sometimes holiday dates are not obvious, and this is where gazetted public holidays in Kenya come in handy. Such days get observed by government parastatals, schools, and typically most employers.

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Kenyans look forward to all public holidays since they imply time off work and school. Most importantly, if a holiday falls on a Friday or a Monday, then it causes much excitement for a long weekend. Here is a detailed list of all the official public holidays in Kenya to keep you in the loop.

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Source: Tuko Kenya

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