Photograph: Sussi Hj/
Photograph: Sussi Hj/

Special Days in December

December 5 - Krampusnacht

A centuries-old Christmas tradition in Germany and other parts of Europe, Krampusnacht is said to be when the Krampus, a beasty demonic figure and the antithesis of jolly St Nick, arrives in towns to reward good children and take wicked ones away to the underworld. Similar to the concept of the Naughty and Nice List, but way, way darker.

December 10 to 18 - Hanukkah

Also known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is an important Jewish festival which runs for eight days. The religious holiday is a celebration of Judaism and commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem. People celebrate by lighting candles, gifting presents and eating traditional Hanukkah food, such as latkes.

December 13 – Santa Lucia

Santa Lucia or Saint Lucy’s Day is a feast day in the Christian calendar celebrating Saint Lucy, a martyr who is seen as a figure of light in the darkest part of the year. It’s an especially important day in Scandinavia, where the day is marked by atmospheric processions and concerts, featuring

Illustrative photo
Illustrative photo

singers clad in white and wearing headdresses featuring actual flickering candles.

December 21 - December Solstice and Yule

The December solstice, known as the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, marks the shortest day and the longest night for half of the world. Yule is the ancient Pagan celebration associated with that moment in midwinter. Many modern traditions like carolling and Yule logs (which used to be an actual log, not a chocolate cake) stem from the ancient 12-day festival.

December 24, 25 – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day

Photograph: Shutterstock
Photograph: Shutterstock

We probably don’t need to tell you about this one, huh? A major celebration in the Christian calendar, Christmas traditionally marks the birth of Jesus. However, plenty of people around the world celebrate Christmas for non-religious reasons too, embracing the commercial side of the holiday: turkey, presents, decorated trees and all. Different countries have developed all kinds of unique ways to celebrate that have very little to do with the holiday’s religious beginnings. In Japan, for example, a trad Christmas dinner consists of KFC.

December 26 - Kwanzaa

Illustrative photo
Illustrative photo

First celebrated in California in the 1960s, Kwanzaa is an annual celebration of African-American history and culture, culminating in a communal feast. Festivities typically include dancing, performance and candle-lighting.

December 26 – Boxing Day

Boxing Day takes place on December 26. Only celebrated in a few countries, the holiday originated in the United Kingdom during the Middle Ages. It was the day when the alms box, collection boxes for the poor often kept in churches, were opened and their content distributed, a tradition that still happens in some areas. It was also the day servants were traditionally given the day off to celebrate Christmas with their families.

Boxing Day has now become a public holiday in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, among other countries. In England, soccer matches and horse races often take place on Boxing Day. The Irish refer to the holiday as St. Stephen’s Day, and they have their own tradition called hunting the wren, in which boys fasten a fake wren to a pole and parade it through town. The Bahamas celebrate Boxing Day with a street parade and festival called Junkanoo.

Ōmisoka – December 31

Ōmisoka, New Year’s Eve, is considered the second-most important day in Japanese tradition as it is the final day of the old year and the eve of New Year’s Day, the most important day of the year. Families gather on Ōmisoka for one last time in the old year to have a bowl of Toshi Koshi-soba or Toshi Koshi-udon, a tradition based on eating the long noodles to cross over from one year to the next.

At midnight, many visit shrines or temples for Hatsumōde. Shinto shrines prepare amazake to pass out to crowds and most Buddhist temples have large cast bells that are struck once for each of the 108 earthly desires believed to cause human suffering.

December Calendar of United States of America

December Calendar with Holidays and Celebrations of United States

01 WED World AIDS Day

01 WED National Christmas Lights Day

02 THU International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

02 THU National Mutt Day

03 FRI National Bartender Day

03 FRI International Day of Persons with Disabilities

04 SAT Candle Day

04 SAT Wildlife Conservation Day

05 SUN Day of the Ninja

05 SUN International Volunteer Day

05 SUN National Repeal Day

06 MON St. Nicholas Day

06 MON Last Day of Hanukkah

06 MON National Gazpacho Day

06 MON National Miners Day

07 TUE Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

07 TUE World War II

07 TUE International Civil Aviation Day

07 TUE National Letter Writing Day

08 WED Feast of the Immaculate Conception

08 WED National Brownie Day

09 THU National Llama Day

09 THU International Anti-corruption Day

10 FRI Human Rights Day

10 FRI Dewey Decimal System Day

10 FRI Nobel Prize Day

10 FRI International Animal Rights Day

Read more: List of Important Festivals and Holidays in July around the World

11 SAT International Mountain Day

11 SAT UNICEF Birthday

12 SUN Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

12 SUN Gingerbread House Day

12 SUN National Poinsettia Day

12 SUN International Day of Neutrality

13 MON National Day of the Horse

13 MON Green Monday

13 MON National Guard Birthday

13 MON National Salesperson Day

13 MON National Violin Day

14 TUE Monkey Day

14 TUE National Free Shipping Day

15 WED International Tea Day

15 WED National Cupcake Day

15 WED Bill of Rights Day

15 WED National Wear Your Pearls Day

16 THU Boston Tea Party

16 THU National Chocolate Covered Anything Day

17 FRI Wright Brothers Day

17 FRI Pan American Aviation Day

17 FRI National Ugly Sweater Day

17 FRI National Maple Syrup Day

17 FRI National Underdog Day

18 SAT National Wreaths Across America Day

18 SAT Answer The Telephone Like Buddy The Elf Day

18 SAT National Twin Day

18 SAT International Migrants Day

19 SUN National Emo Day

20 MON International Human Solidarity Day

21 TUE Winter Solstice

21 TUE National Crossword Puzzle Day

21 TUE National Short Girl Appreciation Day

21 TUE National Homeless Persons’ Remembrance Day

22 WED National Short Person Day

22 WED National Cookie Exchange Day

23 THU Festivus

23 THU National Roots Day

24 FRI Christmas Eve

25 SAT Christmas Day

26 SUN Kwanzaa

28 TUE National Card Playing Day

28 TUE National Short Film Day

28 TUE Pledge of Allegiance Day

28 TUE National Call a Friend Day

28 TUE National Download Day

29 WED Wounded Knee

29 WED Still Need To Do Day

30 THU National Bacon Day

31 FRI New Year's Eve

31 FRI No Interruptions Day

December Important Festivals Around the World

List of Important Festivals and Holidays in December around the World
Photo: Rad Season

Al Dhafra Festival – Abu Dhabi

If you are one who loves to dive headfirst into a new culture, the Al Dhafra Festival is just for you. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy commander in chief of the UAE armed forces collaborate to host an epic socially vibrant festival at the edge of the Empty Quarter desert in Dubai. A caravan of camels and hundreds of tribes descend upon the stunning sand dunes of the festival grounds and provide a breathtaking view.The three-week festival includes Saluki dog races, falconry, photography competitions and amazing culinary dishes. Don’t forget to check out the Mazayna: a beauty competition for camels!

Dates: December 2020 / January 2021 – TBA

Location: Madinat Zayed, Al Dhafra Region, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Where to stay: Madinat Zayed

New Year’s Celebration in Rio de Janeiro – Brazil

It’s hard to believe that New Year’s in Rio is the second biggest party in the city. However it does make sense after you experience the legendary Carnival that takes place every February / March. Nonetheless, celebrating NYE simply can not get any more epic in this part of Brazil. More than 2.5 million people pack onto Copacabana Beach for the biggest beach party known to mankind. Music and fireworks light up the seaside crowd looking to bring in the new year with positivity and love.Several music stages line the beach for those committed to dancing the night away and plenty of bars and restaurants allow you to get a perfect view of the firework show. Make sure to bring all-white attire to fit right in with the Brazilian New Year’s tradition!

Dates: December 31, 2020

Location: Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Chichibu Night Festival – Japan

If there was one piece of advice for the Chichibu Night Festival, it’s to get there way early! Located just 90 minutes from Tokyo, this massive Japanese party gets packed quick and for good reason. Floats decorated with lanterns, wood carvings and unique musical touches line the streets until they arrive at the city center. Once in place, an incredible firework show commences for a view that is very hard to match.Pop up food stands are placed all around the small town so you can get a true taste of Japanese street food. Don’t forget to pick up a couple bottles of amazake (sweet rice wine) to keep you warm during the frigid December evening.

Dates: December 2 – 3, 2020

Location: Chichibu, Japan

Where to stay: Chichibu

Paris International Fantastic Film Festival – France

Film-heads unite during one of France’s most culturally sound film festivals. True fans of horror, fantasy and everything in between will be able to enjoy a plethora of international blockbusters, local films and foreign-language flicks.All motion pictures will be played at the world-famous Max Linder Panorama theatre. Spectators even get to vote at the end of each screening and will decide which films receive PIFFF awards and prizes.

Dates: December 2020 – TBA

Location: Max Linder Theatre, Paris, France

Where to stay: Paris

Salsa World Championships – United States

Believe it or not, there are about half a dozen world salsa championships that take place around the globe. Make sure to head to the championships if you want to truly see the “Olympics of Salsa.” Negotiations are underway with several cities and venues to announce the next season which will be held in December 2020.Established in 2005 and televised nationally by ESPN the U.S. version of the Salsa World Championships will not disappoint. Not only do you get to enjoy an extravagant competition filled with flare and pizzaz, but attendees also can partake in daily salsa lessons from world-class instructors. Not a bad way to impress your crush!

Dates: December 2 – 6, 2020

Location: Virtual

Klausjagen, Küssnacht – Switzerland

One of the strangest festivals in December takes place in Küssnacht where locals take to the northern shore of Lake Lucerne and chase down Santa with a cowbell and a bunch of hollering.The medieval pagan practice was meant to scare off evil spirits with noise but has transformed into a Christian festival involving good ol’ St. Nick. The night before, the entire village gathers for a parade wearing candlelit hats. Once Santa appears, nearly 500 people chase him down and give him a beating. Interesting to say the least.

Dates: December 4, 2020

Location: Küssnacht, Switzerland

Where to stay: Küssnacht

Junkanoo Parade – Bahamas

This party is serious. So much so, locals prepare months in advance by fixing their costumes, floats and mastering their dance moves. Thousands of spectators crowd the side of the street and kickoff a massive parade in the Bahamas celebrating the Akan origin.Other spin-off festivals take place around the world, but the true Junkanoo Parade is located in Nassau, New Providence. The celebration brings Garifuna culture to life through choreographed dance to the beat of drums and cowbells. This epic parade is so popular that it’s been featured in James Bond – Thunderball, Jaws the Revenge and Miami Vice!

Dates: December 26, 2020 – January 1, 2021

Location: Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas

Where to stay: Nassau

Snowglobe Music Festival – United States

California is home to a lot of Rad events and things to do. Snowglobe might just top the list for Golden State’s winter festival lineup. Party on to headlining acts from Skrillex, Fisher, Griz and Gigantic Nghtmre. Take in the new year right on Lake Tahoe’s buttery slopes and specialty spiked hot beverages.Don’t miss out on the snowboarding competitions as premiere winter-sport athletes duke it out under the firework-filled sky. Holiday treats come at no shortage from the countless food vendors present.

Dates: December 2020 – TBA

Location: Lake Tahoe, California, USA

Where to stay: Lake Tahoe

Burning of the Clocks – England

Forget the past, look forward to the future and embrace the present. England’s Burning of the Clocks is a unique winter solstice festival with a carnival atmosphere.Those who attend carry their hand-made paper “clock” lanterns throughout the city before burning them on the beach in an enormous bonfire symbolizing the end of the year. Costumes, music and plenty of fireworks will be present in this uncommon but eerily satisfying event in Brighton, England.

Dates: December 21, 2020

Location: Brighton, England

Where to stay: Brighton

***READ MORE: List of Important Festivals and Holidays in July around the World

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