7 Holidays in December that aren’t Christmas

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The holidays are upon us! But it’s easy to get wrapped up in the holiday our family celebrates and forget about our friends or colleagues that might have their own special traditions.

While it’s easy to do a quick google search and see all the festivities that happen in December, why not have it all in one place?

We put together a list of the most common December holidays, so you’re ready to give your best wishes to any of your friends celebrating something that isn’t Christmas. Keep reading to find out what else is going on this month.

Saint Nicholas Day (December 6th)

St Nicholas Day

Saint Nicholas was the inspiration behind Santa Claus and is still celebrated in many parts of the world. It’s a popular holiday throughout Europe, including countries like Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey.

In these countries, they celebrate on December 5th. Children put their shoes by the door or stockings over the fireplace (sound familiar?) filled with straw and carrots for Saint Nicholas’ horses. The snacks are rewarded by toys and candy left by Saint Nicholas himself.

Bodhi Day (December 8th)

Bodhi Day

Mostly celebrated in Japan, Bodhi is a day for enlightenment. It commemorates the day Siddhartha Gautama became a Buddha while meditating beneath a Bodhi tree. Typically, it is observed by Zen Buddhists on the 8th day of the 12th lunar month.

Unlike most of our celebrations, this is a chill time to meditate and honor the day of awakening. Families that celebrate do so by lighting candles or decorating a small ficus with strings of beads.

Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12th0

Popular in Mexico, this holiday honors the appearance of the mother of Jesus in Mexico City. It’s said she came through the city in 1531. While it’s not an official holiday, Mexico celebrates by having festivals in the streets or groups will pilgrimage to the spot where Mary is said to have first appeared.

They also have feasts with their families after the celebration and receive blessings at their church. Though popular in Mexico, it is starting to take off in the Southwest of the U.S., which means you might need to know what it is.

Saint Lucia Day (December 13th)

Saint Lucia Day is the start of the Christmas season in many of the Scandinavian countries, such as Sweden. It honors Saint Lucia, the patron saint of Sweden.

Many of the celebrations are a mix of your traditional Christmas festivities. They gather in the streets where the girls wear white dresses and carry lingonberry branches with candles, and boys wear white robes and pointed hats. Throughout the city, families celebrate by feasting on ginger snaps and saffron-flavored buns.

Yule (Winter Solstice)

A Pagan holiday, Yule marks the beginning of the winter solstice. Otherwise known as the time of year when your days finally start to get long again.

It’s a celebration of the rebirth of the sun, which let’s be honest, we could all get behind after a few months of short winter days.

Hanukkah (Dates vary)


This is probably one of the December holidays you already know about. But let’s review what it’s all about for those that might not be aware.

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after their victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.

The holiday lasts for eight days and nights and falls anywhere between November 28th and December 26th. It’s celebrated each evening by lighting the menorah and feasting together on fantastic fare.


Happy Kwanzaa

Similar to the extended celebration of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa is a seven day holiday that celebrates African culture. On the sixth day, African’s have a big feast called Kwanzaa Karamu, and gifts are given to loved ones.

They also hold special performances of traditional music and light the Kinara. Overall, it’s honors African culture and gives families a chance to discuss their heritage and beliefs together.

Knowing about other cultures and what they celebrate can help you connect with your friends. If you know they celebrate one of the above, why not send them a quick text reminding them that you’re thinking of them on their special holiday?

Whatever you celebrate, we wish you the best!