5116 popular holidays around the world
There are so many different holidays celebrated around the world every year

Holidays and celebrations are some of the best times to gather with family to create lifelong memories, and families around the world cherish many traditions together.

Knowinsider ranked Top 20 most popular and celebrated holidays around the world so you can figure out when to get excited.

1. New Year

When: January 1

New Year’s Day, which is on January 1, marks the start of the year in the Gregorian calendar and it's a public holiday in many countries

Celebrating the New Year on January 1 is a human-created civil event, not a natural, seasonal or astronomical one. And yet nature cooperates to make January 1 a satisfying time to start anew as the days begin to get longer again.

Top 20 Most popular and celebrated Holidays around the World
New Year's celebrations commemorate the beginning of the new calendar year

New Year's celebrations commemorate the beginning of the new calendar year. In particular, New Year's Eve is usually marked by the ball drop, alcohol consumption, and fireworks.

The date of a new year is a human-made creation, not precisely fixed by any natural or seasonal marker.

Today, although many do celebrate New Year’s Day on January 1, some cultures and religions do not.

2. Christmas

Marking the birth of Jesus Christ, the day is a religious and cultural celebration around the world. Both Christians and non-Christians alike celebrate the holiday that is characterized by Christmas trees and decorations, Santa Claus, feasts, and gift giving.

More than 160 countries celebrate Christmas. A few countries refer to the holiday as Family Day, including Angola and Uruguay.

Christmas Day celebrates the Nativity of Jesus which according to tradition took place on December 25th 1 BC. December 25th will be a public holiday in most countries around the world. If 25 December falls on a weekend, then a nearby weekday may be taken as a holiday in lieu.

*Merry Christmas: Best Wishes and Messages for family and friend: Here*What is Christmas: History and Origin meaning: Here

Top 20 Most popular and celebrated Holidays around the World

3. Valentine's Day

Originating as a Western Christian feast day honoring Saint Valentine, Valentine's Day is now recognized as a celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world.

Top 20 Most popular and celebrated Holidays around the World
These penguins in California have been known to get into the spirit of Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is named after Saint Valentine, a Catholic priest who lived in Rome in the 3rd Century. There are many stories about St Valentine and over time these stories grew into the legend we know today.

St Valentine's Day is an annual festival to celebrate romantic love, friendship and admiration. Every year on 14 February people celebrate this day by sending messages of love and affection to partners, family and friends. Couples send Valentine's Day cards and flowers and spend special time together to honour their love for each other.

Read More: Top 10 Weirdest Holidays on the Planet: Dates and Celebrations

4. Halloween

Halloween is a holiday celebrated each year on October 31. The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts.

This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

Top 20 Most popular and celebrated Holidays around the World

Older kids and young adults who are too old for trick or treating amuse themselves with Halloween themed costume parties, where they dress up as their favourite characters from television or popular media.

With the current coronavirus climate, it is necessary to maintain all health protocols during the celebrations in order to ensure your own safety and of those around you. Happy Halloween!

5. Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr

When: April/May/June

Eid al-Fitr, also known as "Festival of Breaking the Fast," is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of the month-long fasting of Ramadan. It is typically celebrated for 1 to 3 days, and includes an act of charity and prayer.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. During this month, Muslims observe a complete fast from dawn until sunset.

Ramadan Worship and Prayer

During Ramadan, prayer is an important element for much of the Muslim faithful. Muslims are encouraged to pray and attend a mosque for special services. Nightly prayers called tarawill are common, as is rereading the Quran over the course of the month, often in the form of an epic prayer. At the end of Ramadan, before the final fast is broken, Muslims also recite a prayer called the takbeer, which gives praise to Allah and acknowledges his supremacy.

Top 20 Most popular and celebrated Holidays around the World
Muslims pray during Eid al-Fitr

As part of the Islamic lunar calendar, Ramadan's dates vary according to the lunar cycle. In 2020, Ramadan begins on the evening of Thursday, April 23 and ends on the evening of Saturday, May 23. The observance of the new crescent moon marks the official start of Ramadan.

Ramadan lasts 29 or 30 days, depending on the year. The holiday of Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the next lunar month.

What is Eid Al-Fitr?

The end of Ramadan is marked by the Islamic holy day of Eid Al-Fitr, sometimes just called Eid. Eid begins on the first day of the Islamic lunar month of Shawwal, and the celebration may last as long as three days.

6. Easter

Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, which is described in the New Testament of the Bible. The celebration is often characterized by feasts, Easter eggs, and the Easter Bunny.

Easter is a holy festival which is celebrated by churches around the world. The traditional celebration of the festival involves a dimly lit church with special prayers sung in praise of Jesus Christ. People are often involved in charitable causes on this day and sing happy prayers in the church to commemorate the rising of Jesus Christ from dead. One more vital feature of Easter is egg. Egg is a symbol of resurrection for Christian community, so well decorated eggs and egg hunting have become very important in Easter.

Top 20 Most popular and celebrated Holidays around the World
Easter is one of the most prominent festivals in the Christian calendar and is celebrated with utmost joy throughout the world

The festival is also called the Resurrection Sunday. The testament states that the festival is celebrated three days after the burial of Jesus.

Easter does not fall on the same date every year. It is usually observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon which is on or after March 21st. It usually falls between March 21 and April 25.

Christians visit churches on this day to admit their wrongdoings and recite the holy bible as a symbol of offering prayer to the Almighty. The festival is the foundation of Christian faith and is a very important date within Christainity.

This is still the method used to determine Easter today, which is why some years we have Easter earlier than other years.

  • April 12, 2020
  • April 4, 2021
  • April 17, 2022
  • April 9, 2023
  • March 31, 2024
  • April 20, 2025

Read More: Top 60+ Funniest and Weirdest Holidays in the US

7. Thanksgiving Day

When: 4th Thursday in November (U.S.)

Thanksgiving is a particularly American holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

The word evokes images of football, family reunions, roasted turkey with stuffing, pumpkin pie and, of course, the Pilgrims and Wampanoag, the acknowledged founders of the feast. But was it always so? Read on to find out...

Thanksgiving Day is a day for people in the US to give thanks for what they have. Families and friends get together for a meal, which traditionally includes a roast turkey, stuffing, potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce, gravy, and pumpkin pie.

Top 20 Most popular and celebrated Holidays around the World
The turkey is usually served with cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy. Yams or sweet potatoes are another important part of Thanksgiving dinner and is often served as a side-dish. Pumpkin pie is the most popular dessert of Thanksgiving.

In some cities and towns, there are parades during the Thanksgiving weekend. In most areas, these festivities also mark the opening of the Christmas shopping season.

Most government offices, businesses, schools, universities, colleges, and other organizations are closed on Thanksgiving Day. Many offices and businesses allow staff to have a long four-day weekend for Thanksgiving. Public transit systems usually do not operate on their regular timetables.

Thanksgiving Day is one of the busiest periods for travel in the USA. This can cause congestion and overcrowding. Seasonal parades and busy football games can also cause disruption to local traffic.

*What is Thanksgiving Day: History, Celebrations: Here

*Thanksgiving Day: 5 Weirdest Traditions Ever: Here

8. St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick’s Day is officially observed on March 17 each year, though celebrations may not be limited to this date. The significance of March 17 is that it’s said to be the date of St. Patrick’s death in the late 5th century (circa A.D. 493).

Year St. Patrick’s Day
2020 Tuesday, March 17
2021 Wednesday, March 17
2022 Thursday, March 17
2023 Friday, March 17

Taking place on the day Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland, died, the holiday is a cultural and religious celebration typically involving green attire, shamrocks, and alcohol consumption.

Saint Patrick is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. He is credited with successfully spreading Christianity throughout Ireland—hence the Christian celebration of his life and name.

9. Diwali

Diwali is the Hindu festival of light celebrating the triumph of good over evil. Saturday, November 14 marks Diwali, one of the the biggest festivals in India. Celebrated during the Hindu month of Kartika, the festival commemorates the triumph of good over evil, with glistening lights and delicious food, and is celebrated around the world by followers of the Hindu faith and beyond.

Top 20 Most popular and celebrated Holidays around the World
A woman celebrating Diwali.

On Diwali night, participants dress up in colorful clothing and light oil-wick lamps, filling their homes with bright light. Communities will also share tasty treats, light fireworks and pray to the deities.

10. Lunar New Year in China and Vietnam

When: 1st day of the first month of the Chinese and Vietnamese calendar (between January 21 and February 20)

Lunar New Year is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese and Vietnamese calendar. The celebration is often characterized by a dinner, fireworks and firecrackers, and red envelopes for money exchange.

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11. Independence Day in U.S.

When: July 4

Independence Day, also known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States marking the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Families typically celebrate the holiday with fireworks, a picnic or barbecue, alcohol consumption, and the colors of the American flag.

12. Oktoberfest

When: September/October

Oktoberfest is the world's largest Volksfest (beer festival and traveling funfair) and is held in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. Other cities around the world hold celebrations modeled after the original Munich event. Celebrations involve alcohol consumption (specifically beer), parades, food, and dancing.

13. Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead)

When: November 2 (generally celebrated October 31-November 2)

Día de Muertos is a Mexican holiday and involves family and friends gathering to celebrate and remember friends and family who have died. Typically, the celebration includes the creation of altars to remember the dead and traditional dishes.

14. Hanukkah Festival

Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights and it remembers the rededication of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, in Israel. Many Jewish people in the United States mark the last day of Hanukkah as the end of the Hanukkah celebrations.

This happened in the 160s BCE/BC (before Jesus was born). (Hanukkah is the Hebrew and Aramaic word for 'dedication'.) Hanukkah lasts for eight days and starts on the eve of the Kislev 25, the month in the Jewish calendar that occurs at about the same time as December. Because the Jewish calendar is lunar (it uses the moon for its dates), Kislev can happen from late November to late December.

Top 20 Most popular and celebrated Holidays around the World
It is a Jewish tradition for candles to be lit during Hanukkah.

During Hanukkah, on each of the eight nights, a candle is lit in a special menorah (candelabra) called a 'hanukkiyah'. There is a special ninth candle called the 'shammash' or servant candle which is used to light the other candles. The shammash is often in the center of the other candles and has a higher position. On the first night one candle is lit, on the second night, two are lit until all are lit on the eighth and final night of the festival. Traditionally they are lit from left to right. A special blessing, thanking God, is said before or after lighting the candles and a special Jewish hymn is often sung. The menorah is put in the front window of houses so people passing can see the lights and remember the story of Hanukkah. Most Jewish families and households have a special menorah and celebrate Hanukkah.

Hanukkah in other years:

2021: November 28- December 6

2022: December 18-26

2023: December 7-15

2024: December 25-January 2

2025: December 14-22

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15. Bodhi Day

When: 8th day of the 12th lunar month of the Chinese calendar, or December 8 in Japan

Bodhi Day is the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha experienced enlightenment. Traditions for the day vary, but can include meditation, a traditional meal, and study of the Dharma.

16. Festa Junina—A Summer Harvest

Festa Junina is celebrated in Brazil on June 24 to mark the end of the summer and the beginning of the harvest season. It originated as a Catholic holiday and celebrates three Catholic saints: Saint Anthony, Saint John, and Saint Peter.

Top 20 Most popular and celebrated Holidays around the World
Festa Junina is celebrated in Brazil on June 24

Families celebrate Festa Junina by dressing in rural, harvest-themed clothes and building bonfires in the street in front of their homes. As June is a colder month, the bonfires help establish a warm area for the community to gather. In Brazil, most corn is harvested in June; because of this harvest, much of the food eaten during Festa Junina is made with corn.

17. Maslenitsa—The End of a Harsh Winter

Maslenitsa is a Slavic holiday that is celebrated right before the Great Lent in March. Also called Pancake Week, Maslenitsa is a weeklong holiday in which the Russian people eat blinis, thin pancakes covered in toppings that can range from sweet to savory.

Blinis represent the sun with their circular shape and warmth and usher in a welcome end to winter. The week of Maslenitsa also includes snowball fights, family gatherings, and community events. At the end of the week, it is traditional to burn a straw effigy, “Lady Maslenitsa,” that represents the winter season.

Holidays around the world: Maslenitsa

18. St. Nicholas Eve - Sinterklaas’s Birthday

On December 5, the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, Dutch children are told that Sinterklaas comes to Holland all the way from Spain to deliver toys. Sinterklaas, according to tradition, leaves his steamboat at a port and rides through the town on a white horse. His helpers, all called Piet, help him deliver presents to the children who have been good. Naughty children, by contrast, are said to be taken to Spain for a year to learn to be nice.

St. Nicholas Eve and Christmas are separate holidays in Holland. Christmas Day, known as Eerste Kerstdag, is a more reverent and family-centered holiday, with family meals, church services, and Christmas stories.

Holidays around the world: St. Nicholas Day in Holland

19. Tu B’shevat- Celebrating Mother Nature

Tu B’shevat is a tradition celebrated by Jews on the 15th day of the month of Shevat (January or February, depending on the Hebrew calendar). Its purpose is to celebrate the end of the rainy season and to emphasize the responsibility to care for and nurture the earth. People plant trees, eat fruit, and celebrate the beauty and magnificence of our planet.

Holidays around the world: Tu B'shevat

20. Qingming Festival

China’s Qingming festival is a time for families to honor their ancestors and celebrate the beginning of spring. The holiday is also called “Tomb Sweeping day” or “Pure Brightness”—the literal English translation—and usually falls between April 4 and 6.

As the name suggests, the Qingming festival is a time for families to show reverence for their ancestors by visiting, cleaning, and repairing their ancestors’ tombs; sometimes, families also leave wreaths or food offerings in front of the tombs.

Qingming is also a celebration of rebirth and the beginning of spring. During Qingming, people often fly kites or colored lanterns, participate in sports, or simply spend time outside to enjoy the new greenery and blossoms of spring.

TOP 42 FESTIVALS AND HOLIDAYS AROUND THE WORLD IN SUMARRY

Bastille Day, France: This holiday commemorates the Storming of the Bastille in 1789. There is a large military parade along the Champs Elysees (the biggest in Europe!), parties, and fireworks.

Oktoberfest, Germany: During the last weeks of September and first of October, Munich is host to the biggest beer festivals in the world. If you like beer and brats, Oktoberfest is for you.

Lunar New Year, China and Vietnam: This celebration marks the turn of the Chinese calendar and takes place in January or February. Throughout the country you’ll find dragons, fireworks, lanterns, flowers, and people in traditional dress.

Patrick’s Day, Ireland: Though St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world, Ireland does it best—it was the originator of it after all! The holiday pays tribute to St. Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland with parades and festivals.

Dia de los Muertos, Mexico: On the day after Halloween, there’s a big “Day of the Dead” celebration in Mexico celebrating those who have passed away with costumes and a feast.

Yi Peng Lantern Festival, Thailand: The Yi Peng Lantern Festival is Chiang Mai’s celebration of the Festival of Lights. The people of the city pay homage to Buddha by releasing thousands of lanterns into the sky, truly a sight to behold.

Dev Deepawali, Varanasi, India: This Hindu festival takes place 15 days after Diwali on the banks of the Ganges. The rituals include taking a holy bath in the river and offering oil lamps both on and by the river.

Kwanzaa, United States: African-Americans honor their African heritage during Kwanzaa, a 7-day holiday from December 26-January 1. Observers celebrate by decorating their homes with African cloth and art.

La Tomatina, Bunol, Spain: Spurred from locals throwing produce at each other due to a parade mishap in 1945, La Tomatina has become an annual event. If you attend, be prepared to be covered in tomatoes!

Holi, India: This Hindu celebration, also known as the festival of colors, marks the beginning of spring. People spray colors on each other and celebrate with friends and family.

Diwali, India: One of the largest festivals in India, Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights where families gather together with gifts and feasts.

Crop Over, Barbados: What started as a traditional harvest festival has blossomed into Barbados’ largest national festival. Crop Over takes place from June until the first Monday in August and features calypso music, food tents, street parties, and craft markets. The festival ends with The Grand Kadooment, a party with fireworks and more.

Up Helly Aa Fire Festival, Scotland: Scots in the Shetland area of Scotland mark the end of the yule season with—as the name suggests—fire! Participants carry torches and set a replica of a Viking ship on fire.

Hinamatsuri, Japan: During Hinamatsuri, or “Doll Festival” in English, girls display their dolls in their homes or on a platform covered in red carpet. This tradition goes back to the 1st century when people believed dolls could be host to bad spirits and would float them down the river, taking with them the bad spirits.

Boryeong Mud Festival, South Korea: This festival began to promote a line of cosmetics that used mud from the Boryeong mud flats and has grown to attract over 2 million visitors. Events range from mud slides, mud skiing, colored mud for body painting, and more.

White Nights Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia: Celebrating the season of the midnight sun, the White Nights Festival features ballet, opera, and music events. It culminates with the Scarlet Sails, when a ship with red sails cruises the water with a firework show blazing in the background.

San Fermin Festival, Pamplona, Spain: You probably know this festival better as the running of the bulls. From July 7-14, you and 1 million of your closest friends can participate in this annual event. If you’re not up to running for your life, there are other events, like the Giants and Big-Heads Parade!

Carnival of Venice, Venice, Italy: Dating back to the 11th century, Carnival starts a couple weeks before Ash Wednesday and culminates the day before Ash Wednesday. People flood the streets of Venice donning masks and festive outfits.

Pingxi Lantern Festival, Taiwan: The Lantern Festival in Pingxi is one of the largest in the world with thousands of lanterns illuminating the night sky.

Battle of the Oranges, Ivrea, Italy: This festival is the largest food fight in Italy. People are divided into nine teams and throw oranges at each other to remember the city’s defiance against a tyrant.

Çocuk Bayrami, Turkey: This holiday is also known as Children’s Day. Beginning in 1920 to focus on Turkey’s future, it celebrates children throughout the country.

Esala Perahera, Kandy, Sri Lanka: As a way to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha, the people of Kandy host a festival called Esala Perahera. There is a procession that features cultural dances and people and elephants adorned in lavish costumes.

Eid al-Fitr: This 3-day holiday marks the end of Ramadan. During Eid al-Fitr, people give to charity and celebrate with family and friends.

Pflasterspektakel, Linz, Austria: Pflasterspektakel is a massive street festival in Austria. Lasting three days in July, jugglers, acrobats, mimes, dancers, and other artists perform in the streets of the city.

May Day, England: Dating back to ancient time, May Day is celebrated on the first day of May. The maypole is the center of the festivities and children dance around it.

Obon, Japan: This Buddhist event is for people to pay tribute to their ancestors. People hang lanterns in front of their homes to guide the spirits of their ancestors and perform Obon dances. At the end of Obon the lanterns are placed onto bodies of water to guide the spirits away.

St. Lucia, Sweden: On one of the longest and darkest nights of the year, December 13, Swedes celebrate the patron saint of light, St. Lucia. To celebrate, the children dress in white robes and serve Lussekatter and coffee to their parents.

Inti Raymi, Peru: This reenactment of a 500-year-old Incan tradition takes place in Cuzco. The original ritual involved a large llama sacrifice, but luckily for the llamas, the participants just act out the ceremony with no actual bloodshed. In addition to the procession and faux sacrifice, there are folk dances and traditional Peruvian bands.

Purim: Purim is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman. Festivities include exchanging gifts, eating a celebratory meal, listening to a reading of the Book of Esther, and dressing up in costume.

Masskara Festival, Bacolod, Philippines: During a gloomy time in the city’s history, the local government decided a festival would bring excitement and positive energy. Since then, the Masskara Festival takes place in October and features a dance competition, a beauty pageant, food festivals, concerts, and more.

PANAFEST, Ghana: Created in 1992, PANAFEST takes place every two years to celebrate African culture. Though Ghana hosts the event, the focus is on the entire continent and features performances in drama, music, and poetry.

Harbin Ice Festival, Harbin, China: The largest festival of its kind in the world, the Harbin Ice Festival features massive ice sculptures that are illuminated at night.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque, New Mexico: This hot air balloon festival is the largest of its kind in the world. During the nine day event, there are over 500 balloons present!

Carnaval, Brazil: Carnaval the Brazil version of Mardi Gras – so you know it’s going to be a party! The costumes are over the top, the parades are amazing, and the music will get your feet moving.

Junkanoo, Bahamas: Junkanoo is a street parade in the Bahamas that takes place on December 26 throughout the islands. The parades include dancing, drums, costumes, and music.

Songkran Water Festival, Chiang Mai, Thailand: If you’ve ever dreamed of a full-fledged water gun fight, head to Chiang Mai in April. During the Songkran water festival participants celebrate the New Year by soaking each other with water.

Falles, Valencia, Spain: This traditional celebration commemorates Saint Joseph with five days of parades, street parties, and fireworks.

Koningsdag, The Netherlands: This national holiday in The Netherlands honors King Willem-Alexander. People wear orange and some even dye their hair for the parades and festivities.

Pushkar Camel Fair, Pushkar, India: What began as a camel and livestock fair has now blossomed into an event that attracts thousands of tourists. Besides the buying and selling of animals, there are also stalls with jewelry and textiles, a camel race, and a longest mustache competition.

Boxing Day, United Kingdom: Celebrated the day after Christmas, Boxing Day is similar to the US’s Black Friday. Shops open early and have sales. Football and Rugby teams also play their rivals on Boxing Day in the United Kingdom.

Waitangi Day, New Zealand: This holiday celebrates New Zealand’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi. There is a three-day festival that features traditional Māori customs music, dance, and food.

Semana Santa, Spain: Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is celebrated by Catholic brotherhoods and fraternities in Spain with processions throughout the country. The processions feature floats that depict the Passion of the Christ. The event differs between regions of Spain, but it is overall a pious religious event.

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