December is the time of year when families get together to commemorate their faith and traditions. Somewhat surprisingly, there are some significant events that occur during this month (Global Christmas holidays). These include Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Day, Boxing Day, Three Kings’ Day/Epiphany, Dia de los Reyes Magos/Three Wise Men Day (in some parts of Latin America), Navidad (in Brazil) and St. Stephen’s or Boxing Day (in many Commonwealth countries).
December 25th: Christmas Holiday
December 25th is a Christmas holiday widely accepted as the date for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ by Christians around the world. Though not all churches celebrate on this specific day. For instance The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod observes Christ the King Day on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Many countries in Latin America, however, celebrate Three Kings Day instead of Christmas. This is because many Catholics celebrate a day for each of the three gifts that they believe were given by the magi: gold, incense and myrrh.
This month is also a significant time for two other religions: Judaism and Islam. Hanukkah begins every year on Kislev 25 which can fall between late November to December during non-leap years, while Ramadan starts at varying times from September 11 to November 9 due to differences between lunar calendars and solar calendars.
Boxing Day (December 26th)
In some places around the world, traditions are held even if they have no spiritual or religious context. Boxing Day is celebrated across Commonwealth nations on December 26th. It is the day when shops give out boxes to their customers to dump unwanted Christmas presents in, which are then collected and redistributed by charitable organizations.
Christmas Eve marks the beginning of the Christian celebration of Christmas, the Christmas holiday which lasts for twelve days up until January 6th (is also known as Epiphany). People often sing carols at this time and exchange gifts with each other. The night before Boxing Day (December 25th) is also dedicated to gift giving in some countries like Belgium, France and Japan. This has led December 25th to be called Saint Nicholas’ Day in these places. After opening presents on Christmas morning, many people will typically have a family meal that includes turkey or ham – though other meals are common too.
In the United Kingdom, which remains a predominantly Christian country despite declining church attendance, many people will attend a Christmas Day service. In addition to this, December 26th is Boxing Day – an optional Bank Holiday. On this day it is traditional for households to give or receive presents from their employers. Many charities receive large donations at this time which helps them raise money throughout the rest of the year.
New Year’s Eve (December 31st)
December 31st is New Year’s Eve and marks the last day of the Gregorian calendar year. People often celebrate New Year’s Eve by watching a countdown on television or hosting a party at home with family and friends. The new year begins when the clock strikes midnight in most places around the world though some countries like Samoa use American time zones.
The end of December is also a time when many people in the United States celebrate Kwanzaa which begins on December 26th and lasts for seven days. This commemorates African-American history, culture and spirituality.
In years where Christmas falls on a Saturday then Hanukkah will begin on this day instead, making it a doubly significant month for both Judaism and Christianity.