Winter Holidays Around the World

 

Winter around the world is a time when people get together with friends and family. They gather for good company on the shortest days of the year to share food and drink and, in the case of Chicago, stay warm inside. In many countries and cultures, winter gatherings have evolved over the years to include a diverse variety of traditions. Here are just a few of the winter holidays people celebrate around the world.

Winter Holidays Around The World

Hanukkah

Aside from Christmas, Hanukkah is undoubtedly the winter holiday celebration that Americans are most familiar with. It is celebrated by Jewish communities around the world. Hanukkah is also known as the festival of lights. For a period of eight days and eight nights in late November to late December, people light the menorah to commemorate the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean revolt. People celebrate by exchanging gifts, playing dreidel, and eating with family.

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a relative newcomer to the winter holiday pantheon, but one that has gained a large following in just over half a century. Created in the United States to celebrate African Americans and African heritage, it has since become popular with cultures of the African diaspora in other countries in the Caribbean and South America. Families celebrate Kwanzaa by eating traditional foods from West Africa and discussing aspects of African or African American history.

Three Kings Day

Three Kings Day

Three Kings Day, also known as Epiphany, celebrates the Three Kings or Magi visiting Christ in the manger. It is celebrated in Orthodox Christian and Catholic communities around the world as the last day of the Christmas season, and there is a colorful array of local traditions to mark the celebration. In Louisiana, for example, the Epiphany marks not only the end of the Christmas season but the beginning of Carnival, a celebration that ends with Mardi Gras. Orthodox Christian communities often celebrate by taking a swim in freezing cold water to mark the baptism of Jesus.

Krampus - Echo Limousine

Krampus

In Central European cultures, Krampus is something like the anti-Santa. While Saint Nicholas rewards children who have been good, Krampus, a half-goat/half-demon, punishes children who have been bad. In places like Austria and Slovenia, Krampusnacht (Krampus Night) occurs on December 5th, the night before the Feast of St. Nicholas. People dress up as Krampus and run around the village scaring children and giving out coal to those on the naughty list.

Hogmanay

Hogmanay

Hogmanay is a uniquely Scottish New Years celebration that occurs every year on December 31st. There are many local variants on how it is celebrated but a common theme is gift-giving from the ‘first-foot’, the first guest to cross the threshold into a home in the New Year. The guest gives gifts to the household to represent good fortune and prosperity in the coming year. Other celebrations include torchlit processions and festivals with music and fireworks in larger cities like Edinburgh.

Harbin Ice & Snow Festival

Harbin is a city in the far northeast of China that experiences prolonged winters fueled by winds from Siberia. The brutal winter has given rise to the world’s largest ice and snow festival. Beginning on January 5th and lasting approximately one month, the city hosts a dazzling array of ice and snow sculptures, with artists from around the world competing to create the most impressive displays.

Winter Solstice

The night of December 21st or 22nd in the northern hemisphere is the longest of the year. It marks the turning point where the days begin to get longer as spring approaches. Throughout human history, this celestial event has been marked by cultures across the world. Norse tribes marked the night with huge bonfires to ward off evil spirits on the longest night. In Ancient Rome, the solstice was celebrated with the Saturnalia, a week-long festival of eating and drinking where the social order was inverted and masters served their slaves dinner.

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is celebrated each year according to the lunar calendar and usually falls between late January and mid-February. It is one of the largest celebrations in the world and has influenced lunar New Year celebrations in cultures adjacent to China like Korea and Vietnam. Each year is designated for one of the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Currently, we are in the year of the dog. February 5th, 2019, will mark the beginning of the year of the pig. Celebrations include giving gifts and money to family members and visitors, lighting fireworks, and hosting large feasts.

No matter where you are from in the world, there is bound to be some way to celebrate. In Chicago, whether it’s a party bus for New Year’s Eve or a limo to O’Hare airport to check out the Harbin Ice Festival, Echo Limousine can help you celebrate in style. Contact us today to learn more.