In America, the traditional Christmas (or Holiday) Season starts Thanksgiving and ends New Year’s Day. There are several holidays that happen during this time. Below you will find a list of holidays, with a short description, that happen during "Christmas Time."
4th Thursday in November
Even though you can now find Christmas items in stores on November 1st, Thanksgiving is the traditional start of the Christmas season.
Saint Nicholas Day
Holland and Germany
In honor of St. Nicholas Dutch and German communities celebrate. The Dutch say that Saint Nikolaas
and his helper Zwarte Piet
or Black Pete
would travel by horse to homes. Children would leave out a pair of polished shoes filled with hay and carrots. If the children were good it was replaced with candy and gifts. If the children were not good, Black Pete would leave a piece of coal. This is considered the start of the Christmas season for those who celebrate it.
Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The festival of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe
a week before December 12. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the country—many traveling for a week on foot or by burro—flock to the Basilica of Ville Madero, on the outskirts of Mexico City, where the most impressive ceremonies in honor of the Virgin are held. The streets adjoining the church are literally packed with people who wait their turn to enter the church and make their offering.
Saint Lucia Day
Sweden, Norway, Denmark
A festival of light that marks the beginning of the Christmas season for people from Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Norway and Denmark. They say, St. Lucia comes to make the darkness disappear
. Lucia means Light
. To celebrate, the female playing the role of St. Lucia wears a white dress with a red sash and a crown of candles. She wakes the family at dawn and serves them breakfast.
The Hispanic community prepares for the arrival of Christmas with processions called Posadas
. This represents the pilgrimage of Mary and Joseph on the nine nights before Jesus' birthday. The novena (a prayer said on nine consecutive days) of Las Posadas traditionally begins on December 16th and continues through Christmas Eve, each night a search for shelter, a series of refusals, and a final resting place. Today, Las Posadas is usually condensed into one evening, Christmas Eve, and the final festivities are always followed with Midnight Mass.
The Jewish festival of Chanukah falls around the time of the winter solstice and is often called The Festival of Lights. It is celebrated by lighting special candles each day at sundown. Chanukah commemorates the victory, more then 2000 years ago of a band of Hebrews, led by Judiah Maccabee who recaptured their temple in Jerusalem from the ruling Syrians. Chanukah by definition means dedication
A Pagan holiday that is celebrated during the Winter Solstice. In the Northern Hemisphere this happens between December 20th-22nd. It is the longest night of the year. In the Pagan religion it is the day that the goddess becomes the Great Mother and gives birth to the Sun King.
The Hopi believed that on the summer solstice, when the days are the longest, that the Sun God is closest to Earth. In turn, on the winter solstice, that takes place in December the Sun God has traveled as far from the earth he can. So, in order to bring the Sun God back the warriors have a great festival.
Dong Zhi is the thanksgiving of the Chinese calendar. It is an occasion for the family to get together to celebrate the good year they have had. The festival began as a farmer's festival to celebrate year-end harvest.
The Celebration of the birth of the Christian savior, Jesus Christ, the son of God. A day usually celebrated with family and the exchanging of gifts. Probably the biggest holiday of this time of year, if not the whole year; which is why people often call this time Christmas Time or the Christmas season instead of using one of the other holidays.
Twelve Days of Christmas
December 25th-January 5th
Contrary to much popular belief, these are not the twelve days before Christmas, but in the Western Church are the twelve days from Christmas until the beginning of Epiphany (January 6th; the 12 days count from December 25 until January 5). The origin of the Twelve Days is complicated, and is related to differences in calendars, church traditions, and ways to observe this holy day in various cultures.
Canada, Australia, England, Ireland
English custom of giving Christmas boxes containing food or money to family servants and suppliers. Celebrated in Britain and Canada on December 26.
December 26th-January 1st
A professor, Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, wanted to encourage African Americans to celebrate their heritage so he started Kwanzaa in California in 1966. Traditionally beginning December 26, families exchange gifts and have African cultural feasts and festivities. The word "Kwanzaa" is an East African word which means "first fruits" and refers to the celebration of the harvest of first crops in traditional African society. Kwanzaa is based on seven principles, collectively called Nguzo Saba, and is celebrated for seven days beginning on December 26 and ending on January 1.
Just like New Year’s Eve, Omisoka is celebrated as the beginning of a new year with new possibilities, but their celebrations are a little different. Japanese New Year takes place on the last day of the year (December 31st). In preparation for a new year and a clean slate people purify their homes and remove last year’s clutter by cleaning from top to bottom. This is called “osoji”. They have a giant feast with friends and family with some traditional Japanese foods. Often people go out to celebrate or stay home and watch a nation-wide New Year’s talent competition until it’s time to count down to midnight. Omisoka isn’t just about having a party, it is also considered a spiritual event for many Japanese people, and at midnight they visit Shinto shrines. Temples ring a large cast iron bell at midnight to signify the 108 earthly wants that created human suffering.
New Years Day
Most of the World
A day that is pretty self-explanatory. It's the start of the new year. This holiday is a bit different than most though. If you're having a party for a holiday, it usually happens that day. With New Years, the part actually happens on New Year’s Eve, December 31st. It's a day where people party at night and wait for midnight to ring in the new year. Therefore the party must start the day before. In the USA most of us wait for a big shiny ball to drop in New York's Time Square at midnight. Other countries launch fireworks in celebration.
Three Kings Day
Hispanic Communities, Latin America
Also known as the Epiphany, Three Kings Day ( Día de los Reyes
) is a Christian celebration that commemorates the Biblical story of the three kings who followed the star of Bethlehem to bring gifts to the Christ child. According to the Biblical story, the Three Kings - named Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar - presented the Baby Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Could be considered the end of the Christmas season for those that celebrate it.