Around the world, Christmas is a holiday vastly known and recognized by many people. In different places and cultures, this holiday is celebrated and honored in various ways.
On the first day of Christmas, Jesus Christ was born. Christmas is celebrated to remember the birth of Jesus Christ, whom Christians believe is the Son of God. Although the date of birth of Jesus is unknown, Christians and people all over the world tend to celebrate His birth on December 25. This comes from an early Christian tradition based on the fact that Mary was going to give birth to a very special baby on March 25. Nine months after March 25 is December 25 which is the day Jesus was believed to be born.
Diana Anderson, from Logan Utah, celebrates Christmas as both the day Christ was born and a holiday to spend time together with family. “Christmas for me is celebrating the birth of Christ,” Anderson says, “But also, because I have atheist family members, Christmas is just coming together and celebrating family.”
On the second day of Christmas, there was a Yule dance. Yuletide is a pagan festival celebrated by Germanic people. Normally every year, on December 22, the winter solstice occurs. This is when the sun appears to have reached its highest point in the sky, progressively making the days longer and the nights shorter. It symbolizes the return of the Sun, which pagans believe merits the return of light, hope and promise.
One of the most famous places to celebrate Yule is in the ancient ruins at Stonehenge, England. Thousands of druids and pagans gather there to celebrate, feast, dance and sing while waiting for the transition of the darkness turning into light.
On the third day of Christmas, Santa and his reindeers came to visit. Many children around the world make sure to leave milk and cookies next to the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. The children are sure that the big, old, jolly Santa Claus will come down the chimney and leave them presents. The popular story of Santa Claus is based on 4 century Christian, Saint Nicholas, who was widely recognized for taking care of children. Over the years, the story changed from Saint Nicholas giving gifts and sweets to children, to the classic, well-known white-bearded gentleman dressed in a red and white suit.
On the fourth day of Christmas, the Festival of Lights is celebrated. Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish celebration which normally starts on December 25. This celebration is in honor of the time the Jewish could re-dedicate and worship in their temples, after years of not being allowed to practice their religion. Hanukkah is referred to as the holiday of lights because it celebrates the lighting of the Menorah, which is the ancient Hebrew Lampstand which holds seven candles. It has been said that the Menorah is a symbol of the nation of Israel and its mission to be a ‘light unto the world’.
On the fifth day of Christmas, Kwanzaa is celebrated in commemoration of the African heritage in African-American culture. It is a week long annual celebration, from December 26 to January 1, where people participate in feasts and gift-giving. Each of the seven days in the Kwanzaa tradition to are to highlight important principles such as unity, self-determination, collective work, responsibility, purpose, faith, cooperation, economics, and creativity.
On the sixth and final day of Christmas, three kings arrived in Latin America and Spain. Christmas celebration for Latin Americans and the Spanish doesn’t end until the 12 days of Christmas have been completed, which goes from December 24 to January 6. ‘El Día de Los Reyes’, ‘Feast of the Epiphany’ or ‘Three Kings’ Day’, is celebrated on January 6. Many families celebrate this day with a big feast or different traditions, in honor of the Three Wise Men who visited Jesus on his day of birth, bearing him gifts. Some families have their children write a letter to the three wise men and ask them for a gift. According to the myth, similar to Santa Claus, the Three Wise Men then visit the children’s home and leave the presents.
Other families have other traditions, such as student, Anabella Torres. She shares her experience saying, “My mom would tell us to leave a sock next to the Christmas tree, and the next morning the sock would be filled with candy. I think she did this to help us understand how the three wise men visited Jesus in the middle of the night to give him some presents.”
Christmas is widely celebrated in different ways across the world. It’s important to highlight that even though people have different beliefs about how to celebrate this day, Christmas holidays tend to bring people together.