(Updated 12/2/2023) Holiday Traditions – The holidays are a time to spend with family and friends, and that is what I plan to do this year during Christmas week.
Instead of blogging about the usual SacramentoRevealed.com topics during this holiday season, I thought you may find it interesting to learn about the holiday traditions of various different cultures.
Following is a sampling of holiday traditions of various cultures – past and present. You will notice that many of the holiday traditions have a common theme – family, gifts, feasting and goodwill.
Christmas. Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ and it is celebrated by millions of people around the world. Because of the wide popularity of the holiday, and the number of different peoples who celebrate it, Christmas is expressed very differently in different cultures.
In Sicily, 12 kinds of fish are served, while in Bulgaria there are also 12 dishes, but all are meatless. Taffy-making is a big tradition during Christmas in Wales. In Norway, a gnome brings the presents. It is the Three Wise Men from the Nativity who bring the presents in Spain, and in the Anglo-American tradition, it’s Santa Claus. Regardless of the specifics, though, there remain a number of central features – feasts, gift giving, and family reunion – that unite the traditions.
Christmastide. Christmastide, also known as the Twelve Days of Christmas, begins on December 25 and ends before the Feast of the Epiphany on January 8. The Feast of the Epiphany commemorates the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus. In medieval England Christmastide was a period of continuous feasting and revelry. Christmastide ends on the Twelfth Night (made famous by Shakespeare’s play of the same name).
Dies Natalis Solis Invicti. The festival of the birth of the Unconquered Sun was the celebration day of the late Roman/early medieval sun-god Sol Invictus.
Boxing Day. Boxing Day is traditionally the day after Christmas and was a day on which servants, employees, and tradesmen would receive presents from their employers. Today, in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, Boxing Day is a shopping holiday similar to Black Friday in the United States.
Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is a celebration held in the United States that honors African heritage in the African-American culture. The festivities last from December 26th to January 1st. Each of the seven days of celebration focuses on one of seven principles:
- Collective Work and Responsibility
- Cooperative Economics
Hogmanay. Hogmanay is the Scottish New Year festival. It is celebrated beginning on New Year’s Eve and lasts through the night until the morning of New Year’s Day. The most popular custom of the celebration is that of “first-footing”.
First-footing involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbor at midnight. The person first entering traditionally gives a gift to the homeowner as a way of ensuring good luck for the coming year. The song “Auld Lang Syne” is Hogmanay’s most familiar export.
New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve is the last day of the year and is observed by many cultures throughout the world. It is frequently celebrated with parties, music, fireworks, and other activities. One of the most popular of all traditions is to stay up until midnight and “count in” the New Year.
To Sum Up
To sum up, I enjoyed learning a bit about the holiday traditions of various countries – and I hope you did as well!
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