22 Magical Winter Holidays Around the World

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22 Magical Winter Holidays Around the World

By Colleen Lim

Winter holidays around the world bring enchantment and celebration as the year winds down. From religious observances to cultural traditions, there are countless ways to embrace the magic of this festive season.

In this article, we will explore 22 magical winter holidays celebrated around the world across different cultures and countries. Let’s embark on a journey of discovery and learn about the unique customs and festivities that make this season truly special.

Hanukkah (December)

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is one of our top winter holidays around the world – it an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the miracle of the oil in the Second Temple of Jerusalem. Celebrated by lighting the menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum, and reciting prayers, Hanukkah is rich with cultural traditions and festivities.

Families gather each night to light the menorah, adding one candle each evening until all eight are lit. Traditional foods like latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts) are enjoyed, symbolizing the miracle of the oil. The dreidel, a spinning top game, is played, and gifts are exchanged, making it a time of joy, gratitude, and togetherness.

Germany, particularly Berlin, is a prime destination to experience Hanukkah’s rich traditions. The Brandenburg Gate, a historic landmark, is beautifully illuminated during this time. In New York City, the lighting of the world’s largest menorah in Manhattan‘s Grand Army Plaza is a sight to behold. Hanukkah markets, concerts, and cultural events can be found in various cities around the world, offering a chance to immerse yourself in the festive spirit.

Bodhi Day (December 8)

Bodhi Day is a Buddhist holiday commemorating the day Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. This day is a dedicated to reflection, meditation, and spiritual growth. Let’s explore the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations associated with Bodhi Day.

On Bodhi Day, Buddhists engage in meditation and mindfulness practices to honor the Buddha’s enlightenment. Homes and temples are often decorated with lights and flowers, symbolizing the illumination of wisdom. Offerings of food, incense, and candles are made at altars, and sutras (Buddhist scriptures) are recited. It is a day of deep introspection and gratitude for the Buddha’s teachings.

Bodh Gaya, in the Indian state of Bihar, is the most significant destination for Buddhists on Bodhi Day. Believed to be the site where Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment, the Mahabodhi Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a place of pilgrimage and meditation. Other notable destinations include Lumbini in Nepal, the Buddha’s birthplace, and various Buddhist temples and monasteries worldwide, which offer serene environments to connect with the essence of Bodhi Day.

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St. Lucia Day (December 13)

St. Lucia Day, also known as the Feast of Saint Lucy, is a Christian holiday celebrated in Scandinavia and Italy. It honors Saint Lucy, a martyr who brought light and aid to Christians during times of persecution. Let’s explore the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations associated with St. Lucia Day.

The holiday is marked by processions led by a young girl dressed in a white robe with a crown of candles on her head, symbolizing Saint Lucy bringing light to the darkness of winter. Girls and boys in white robes follow her, singing traditional songs. Saffron buns and gingerbread cookies are enjoyed, and candles are lit to symbolize the triumph of light over darkness.

In Sweden, St. Lucia Day is widely celebrated with processions in schools, churches, and towns. The city of Stockholm hosts a grand procession where the Lucia of the Year is crowned. In Italy, particularly in Sicily, the city of Syracuse holds a magnificent celebration with a parade, fireworks, and religious ceremonies. These destinations offer a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage and traditions associated with St. Lucia Day.

Saturnalia (December 17-23)

Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival dedicated to the god Saturn, celebrated during the winter solstice. It was a time of feasting, gift-giving, and revelry. Let’s delve into the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations associated with Saturnalia.

During Saturnalia, social norms were temporarily overturned, with masters serving their slaves and public festivities encouraged. Homes were decorated with greenery, and candles were lit to symbolize the return of light. Gifts, particularly wax candles called cerei, were exchanged, and feasts were held in honor of Saturn. It was a time of merriment and indulgence.

Though Saturnalia is an ancient festival, its influence can still be felt in modern-day Rome. The city comes alive with reenactments, parades, and feasts during this time. The Roman Forum and the Temple of Saturn are popular destinations to immerse oneself in the historical significance of Saturnalia. Exploring the ruins and participating in traditional Roman feasts can transport you back in time, allowing you to experience the festive spirit of this ancient celebration.

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Las Posadas (December 16-24)

Las Posadas is a nine-day Mexican Christmas tradition that reenacts Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter before the birth of Jesus. It is a time of community, prayer, and celebration. Let’s discover the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations and activities associated with Las Posadas.

During Las Posadas, a procession is held each night, representing Mary and Joseph’s journey. Participants carry candles and sing traditional songs as they go from house to house, seeking shelter. The procession is followed by a reenactment of the nativity scene, prayers, and the breaking of piñatas filled with candies and fruits. Traditional foods like tamales and ponche (a warm fruit punch) are enjoyed, fostering a sense of community and togetherness.

Las Posadas is widely celebrated throughout Mexico, with cities like Mexico City, Oaxaca, and San Miguel de Allende offering vibrant festivities. In Mexico City, the Zócalo, the main square, hosts a grand procession and reenactment of the nativity scene. Oaxaca is known for its elaborate decorations and traditional foods, while San Miguel de Allende’s colonial charm adds a unique touch to the celebrations. These destinations provide an immersive experience of the rich cultural heritage of Las Posadas.

Winter Solstice (December 21 or 22)

The winter solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Throughout history, various cultures have celebrated this time as one of rebirth and renewal. Let’s explore the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations associated with the winter solstice.

Winter solstice celebrations often revolve around themes of light, fire, and the return of longer days. Many cultures light bonfires to symbolize the triumph of light over darkness. Rituals, prayers, and ceremonies honor the changing seasons and natural cycles of life. This period is one of reflection, introspection, and setting intentions for the coming year.

Stonehenge in England is a popular destination for winter solstice celebrations, where thousands gather to witness the sunrise aligning with the ancient stone monument, creating a breathtaking spectacle. In Newgrange, Ireland, the passage tomb is illuminated by the rising sun, showcasing the architectural brilliance of our ancestors. Indigenous cultures worldwide, such as the Inuit in Canada and the Maori in New Zealand, have unique ceremonies and traditions to honor the winter solstice. These destinations offer a chance to connect with the ancient wisdom and spirituality associated with this celestial event.

Yule (December 21)

Yule, also known as the Winter Solstice, is a Pagan festival celebrating the rebirth of the sun and the return of longer days. It is a time of joy, feasting, and connecting with nature. Let’s explore the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations associated with Yule.

Yule is a festival of light and warmth, symbolizing the triumph of the sun over darkness. Bonfires are lit, and candles are placed in windows to guide the sun’s return. Evergreen trees and wreaths are decorated with ornaments, representing the continuity of life. Feasting, storytelling, and gift-giving foster a sense of community and gratitude for nature’s abundance.

Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Norway, and Denmark embrace the traditions of Yule. Christmas markets, known as Julmarknad, offer a delightful experience with traditional food, crafts, and music. In the United Kingdom, the city of York hosts a grand Yule celebration featuring processions, storytelling, and medieval feasts. Exploring natural landscapes, such as forests and mountains, during this time can deepen the connection with the essence of Yule. These destinations provide a glimpse into ancient Pagan traditions and the beauty of celebrating the winter solstice.

Soyal (December 21)

Soyal is a winter solstice ceremony celebrated by the Hopi Native American tribe in the southwestern United States. It is a time of purification, prayer, and renewal. Let’s explore the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations associated with Soyal.

Soyal marks the beginning of the Hopi calendar year with purification rituals, prayers, and the sharing of traditional foods. Integral to the ceremony are Kachina dances, performed by masked dancers representing ancestral spirits. The Hopi people believe Soyal brings balance and harmony to the community and the natural world.

The Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona is the heartland of Soyal celebrations. The village of Walpi, perched on a mesa, offers a unique vantage point to witness the ceremonies. Visitors are welcome to observe the dances and participate in the festivities, respecting the sacred nature of the event. The Hopi Cultural Center provides insights into the rich history and traditions of the Hopi people. Experiencing Soyal is an opportunity to connect with the spiritual essence of the winter solstice and the wisdom of the Hopi tribe.

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Christmas (December 25)

Christmas is a Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. Celebrated with religious services, gift-giving, and festive decorations, it is a time of joy, love, and togetherness for Christians around the world. Let’s explore the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations associated with Christmas.

Religious services, such as midnight Mass, mark the birth of Jesus. Nativity scenes depicting the birth of Jesus are displayed, and carols are sung. Families gather to exchange gifts, share meals, and create lasting memories. Santa Claus, a beloved figure in many cultures, brings joy to children by delivering presents.

Christmas market vienna prague
Christmas Market @ Vienna, Prague

Various cities around the world offer enchanting Christmas experiences. In Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, the Church of the Nativity holds a midnight Mass and a procession to the manger. In Rome, St. Peter’s Basilica hosts the Pope’s Christmas Eve Mass, attracting thousands of visitors. European cities like Dresden, Vienna, Prague, and Strasbourg are renowned for their Christmas markets, where one can find unique gifts, delicious food, and a festive atmosphere. These destinations allow you to immerse yourself in the magic of Christmas and witness the diverse traditions associated with this joyous holiday.

Christmas market dresden germany
Christmas Market @ Dresden. Germany

Boxing Day (December 26)

Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. Originating as a day to give gifts to the less fortunate, it has evolved into a day of sports, shopping, and relaxation. Let’s explore the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations associated with Boxing Day.

Traditionally, Boxing Day is a time for charitable acts and giving back to the community. In the United Kingdom, it is common to give gifts or donations to those in need. Sporting events, particularly football matches and horse races, attract enthusiastic crowds. Shopping sales and discounts draw people to stores, making it a popular day for bargain hunting. It is also a time to relax with family and friends after the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

Cities like London and Manchester offer a range of activities on Boxing Day. Football matches, such as the Premier League fixtures, provide an exciting sporting experience. Horse racing events, like the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park, are popular among racing enthusiasts. Shopping districts, such as Oxford Street and Regent Street in London, are bustling with sales and promotions. These destinations allow you to enjoy the festive atmosphere and partake in the unique traditions associated with Boxing Day.

Boxing day regent street london
Christmas Lights @ Regent Street, London

Kwanzaa (December 26 – January 1)

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration of African heritage and culture, created in the United States in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga. It honors African traditions and promotes unity. Let’s explore the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations associated with Kwanzaa.

Central to Kwanzaa are the seven principles known as the Nguzo Saba: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Each evening, a candle is lit on the Kinara, a candleholder with seven branches, symbolizing one of these principles. This ritual sets the tone for family gatherings where meals are shared, gifts are exchanged, and cultural activities such as storytelling, music, and dance bring the celebration to life.

Primarily celebrated in the United States, Kwanzaa’s vibrant festivities are most prominent in cities with significant African American communities. In New York City, the annual Kwanzaa celebration at the Apollo Theater features performances by renowned artists, creating a dynamic atmosphere. Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African American History offers educational programs and exhibits, enriching the Kwanzaa experience with historical context. Across the country, community centers, cultural organizations, and universities host Kwanzaa events, providing numerous opportunities to engage with and learn about African heritage and traditions.

These destinations and their events not only highlight the rich cultural tapestry of African traditions but also reinforce the principles of Kwanzaa, making the celebration a deeply meaningful and enriching experience.

Hogmanay (December 31 – January 1)

Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year’s Eve celebration, is a vibrant festival steeped in ancient customs and revelry. It marks a time to bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new with joy and optimism. Let’s delve into the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations associated with Hogmanay.

Steeped in Scottish traditions and folklore, Hogmanay begins with the ringing of bells at midnight, symbolizing the end of the old year and the start of the new. One cherished custom is “first-footing,” where the first person to enter a home after midnight brings gifts, often a lump of coal, shortbread, or whisky, symbolizing good luck. The night sky is illuminated by bonfires, fireworks, and torchlight processions, believed to ward off evil spirits. Ceilidhs, traditional Scottish dances, are held with lively music and merriment, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Edinburgh, Scotland‘s capital, hosts one of the world’s largest and most spectacular Hogmanay celebrations. Highlights include the Torchlight Procession through the city, the Street Party on Princes Street, and the breathtaking fireworks display over Edinburgh Castle. In Stonehaven, the Fireball Ceremony is a unique tradition where participants swing fireballs around their heads before tossing them into the sea, symbolizing the sun and purging the old year of its misfortunes. Other cities like Glasgow, Inverness, and Stirling also offer vibrant Hogmanay celebrations, each with its own local flavor.

These destinations immerse you in the rich cultural heritage and warm hospitality of Scotland, making Hogmanay a truly unforgettable experience. Whether you’re dancing at a ceilidh, watching a torchlight procession, or marveling at the fireworks, you’ll feel the spirit of Scotland’s most festive celebration.

Omisoka (December 31)

Omisoka, the Japanese New Year’s Eve celebration, seamlessly blends traditional customs with modern festivities, marking a time for reflection, purification, and welcoming the new year. Preparations for Omisoka begin with “osoji,” a deep cleaning ritual that purifies the home and eliminates any negativity from the past year, symbolizing a fresh start.

As evening approaches, Buddhist temples across Japan ring their bells 108 times in a practice known as “Joya no Kane.” This tradition represents the purification of the 108 worldly desires, helping people enter the new year with a clear mind. Family gatherings are central to Omisoka, where a special meal called “toshikoshi soba” is shared. These long buckwheat noodles symbolize longevity and the hope for a prosperous life. At midnight, people visit shrines and temples to pray for good fortune and make wishes for the coming year, an event known as “hatsumode.”

Tokyo is a vibrant hub for Omisoka celebrations. The famous Meiji Shrine and Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa attract large crowds for their New Year’s Eve ceremonies, offering a blend of traditional rituals and festive atmosphere. The Omisoka Concert at Tokyo Disneyland, featuring live performances and fireworks, adds a modern twist to the celebrations.

These destinations immerse you in the traditional customs and vibrant celebrations of Omisoka, offering a unique blend of reflection and joy. Whether participating in temple ceremonies, enjoying special meals with family, or experiencing modern festivities, Omisoka presents a profound way to usher in the new year.

New Year’s Eve (December 31)

New Year’s Eve is celebrated worldwide as the transition from the old year to the new, marked by reflection, celebration, and setting intentions. Let’s explore the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations for New Year’s Eve.

Different cultures have various customs for this special night. Fireworks light up the sky, symbolizing the farewell to the old year and the welcoming of the new. Countdowns, music, and performances build anticipation for midnight. Champagne toasts, confetti showers, and singing “Auld Lang Syne” are common festivities. Many people make resolutions, aiming for personal growth and positive change in the coming year.

Major cities around the world offer iconic New Year’s Eve celebrations. The Times Square Ball Drop in New York City is a globally recognized event, attracting millions of spectators. Sydney‘s fireworks over the Sydney Harbour Bridge are a spectacular sight. Other notable destinations include London‘s fireworks on the River Thames, Berlin‘s Brandenburg Gate celebration, and Rio de Janeiro‘s Copacabana Beach party. These locations provide unforgettable experiences and a sense of unity as people come together to celebrate the dawning of a new year.

Fireworks syney australia
Fireworks @ Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia

New Year’s Day (January 1)

New Year’s Day is a time of hope, renewal, and fresh beginnings, celebrated worldwide as the first day of the new year. Let’s explore the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations associated with New Year’s Day.

Often a day of rest and reflection, New Year’s Day is spent with loved ones in many cultures. Specific traditions mark this day: in Japan, witnessing the first sunrise, “hatsu-hinode,” is considered auspicious, drawing people to scenic spots. Polar bear plunges, where individuals jump into icy waters, symbolize cleansing and courage. Special meals and foods believed to bring luck and prosperity are also common.

Kyoto, Japan, is a standout destination for New Year’s Day. This historic city offers a serene and culturally rich experience. Witnessing “hatsu-hinode” at iconic spots like Arashiyama and Fushimi Inari Taisha provides breathtaking views of the first sunrise. Visiting temples such as Kiyomizu-dera for “hatsumode,” the first prayer of the year, allows for peaceful reflection. Traditional New Year’s meals, including “osechi ryori” and “mochi,” add to the cultural immersion, making Kyoto a perfect place to embrace the new year with tranquility and purpose.

Kyoto japan
Kyoto, Japan

Many cities around the world continue the festive atmosphere from New Year’s Eve with parades, concerts, and family-friendly activities. It’s a day to relax, reflect on the past year, and set intentions for the future. Whether in a bustling city or a serene natural setting, New Year’s Day offers a chance for personal renewal and embracing the possibilities of the year ahead.

Epiphany (January 6)

Epiphany, also known as Three Kings’ Day, is a Christian holiday commemorating the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus. It symbolizes revelation and the manifestation of divine grace. Let’s explore the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations associated with Epiphany.

Around the world, Epiphany is celebrated in various ways. In some cultures, children dress as the Magi and go from house to house, singing carols and collecting donations for charity. In many Hispanic countries, the day is marked by the arrival of the Three Kings, who bring gifts to children. Special breads, such as Rosca de Reyes in Mexico and Galette des Rois in France, are enjoyed, often containing a hidden figurine or bean. The person who finds it is crowned king or queen for the day.

In Spain, particularly in Barcelona, the Cabalgata de Reyes (Three Kings Parade) is a grand procession featuring elaborate floats and costumed participants. In Mexico City, the Zócalo hosts a vibrant celebration with music, dance, and the cutting of the Rosca de Reyes. Other cities with significant Catholic populations, such as Rome and Paris, hold religious ceremonies and cultural events to honor Epiphany. These destinations offer a glimpse into the diverse traditions and joyful celebrations associated with this holiday.

Orthodox Christmas (January 7)

Orthodox Christmas, celebrated by various Eastern Orthodox Christian churches on January 7th following the Julian calendar, commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. Let’s explore the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations associated with Orthodox Christmas.

Orthodox Christmas is marked by religious services, prayers, and the singing of hymns. In cultures such as Russia and Ukraine, the evening before Orthodox Christmas, known as Holy Night, is celebrated with a festive meal. Traditional foods like kutia (a sweet grain pudding) and borscht (beet soup) are enjoyed. Churches are beautifully decorated, and processions carrying icons and crosses may take place. It is a time of deep spirituality and reverence.

Countries with significant Orthodox Christian populations celebrate Orthodox Christmas widely. In Russia, Moscow‘s Red Square, with the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral, is a focal point for Christmas festivities. In Bethlehem, the Church of the Nativity holds a midnight Mass, drawing Orthodox Christians from around the world. Other destinations like Athens, Belgrade, and Kiev offer unique cultural experiences and religious ceremonies during Orthodox Christmas. These places allow you to immerse yourself in the rich traditions and spiritual significance of this holiday.

Red square moscow russia
Red Square @ Moscow, Russia

Lohri (January 13)

Lohri is a vibrant Punjabi festival celebrated in India to mark the end of winter and the arrival of longer days. It’s a time of bonfires, singing, and dancing, filled with joy and community spirit. Let’s dive into the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations associated with Lohri.

Lohri festivities center around bonfires, where people gather to sing traditional songs and perform lively folk dances like Bhangra and Giddha. Roasting sugarcane, peanuts, and popcorn in the fire symbolizes abundance and prosperity, and these treats are shared among everyone. Children add to the festivities by going door-to-door, singing Lohri songs and receiving sweets and money, creating a cheerful and inclusive atmosphere.

In Punjab, Lohri is celebrated with great cultural significance. The city of Amritsar, home to the Golden Temple, offers a unique Lohri experience. The temple glows beautifully with lights, and special prayers are held, adding a spiritual dimension to the celebrations. Cities like Ludhiana and Jalandhar also come alive with vibrant Lohri celebrations, featuring bonfires, music, and captivating dance performances. These destinations provide an immersive experience of Punjabi culture, showcasing the warmth and hospitality of its people during Lohri.

Makar Sankranti (January 14)

Makar Sankranti is a vibrant Hindu festival in India, celebrating the sun’s transition into the zodiac sign of Capricorn. This joyous occasion marks the harvest season and is filled with kite flying and cultural festivities. Let’s dive into the unique celebrations and top destinations for Makar Sankranti.

Across India, Makar Sankranti is celebrated with immense enthusiasm and cultural diversity. People take holy dips in rivers like the Ganges to cleanse themselves of sins, symbolizing spiritual renewal. Kite flying is a major highlight, representing the freedom of the soul and the onset of longer days. Traditional delicacies like til ladoo (sesame seed sweets) and gur (jaggery) are prepared and shared, adding a sweet touch to the festivities. Bonfires, dance performances, and music further enhance the lively atmosphere.

Several cities in India offer unique experiences during Makar Sankranti. Ahmedabad‘s International Kite Festival attracts enthusiasts from around the globe, filling the sky with colorful kites. Jaipur hosts the Makar Sankranti Fair, featuring cultural performances, camel races, and traditional games, creating a vibrant and engaging environment. Varanasi, Kolkata, and Hyderabad also showcase diverse traditions and lively celebrations, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage and spirituality of the festival.

These destinations provide a vivid glimpse into the joyful and diverse ways Makar Sankranti is celebrated, making it a truly unique and enriching experience.

Imbolc (February 1)

Imbolc is a Pagan festival celebrated in Gaelic cultures, marking the onset of spring. It symbolizes purification, fertility, and the earth’s awakening. Let’s delve into the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations associated with Imbolc.

Imbolc honors the goddess Brigid, a figure of healing, poetry, and smithcraft. The festival features purification rituals, where homes are cleansed, and candles are lit to welcome the returning light. Offerings of food and drink are made to the earth, symbolizing the nourishment of new life. Divination and storytelling are key activities, linking participants with ancestral wisdom and celebrating the changing seasons and renewal.

Celebrated primarily in Gaelic regions like Ireland and Scotland, Imbolc offers both vibrant and tranquil experiences. In Ireland, the town of Kildare, associated with the goddess Brigid, hosts a lively festival with music, storytelling, and craft demonstrations. The Scottish Highlands provide a serene backdrop for connecting with nature and observing the seasonal shift. Visiting ancient sites such as the Hill of Tara in Ireland or the Callanish Standing Stones in Scotland can deepen your connection to Imbolc’s ancient traditions. These destinations offer a chance to embrace the magic of nature and the rich folklore of this festival.

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Candlemas (February 2)

Candlemas, observed on February 2nd, commemorates the presentation of Jesus at the temple and the purification of the Virgin Mary. This Christian holiday radiates themes of light, blessings, and hope. Let’s delve into the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations associated with Candlemas.

The holiday is distinguished by the blessing of candles, representing the light of Christ. Processions feature participants carrying lit candles while singing hymns. In some cultures, candles are placed in windows to ward off evil spirits and bring blessings to the household. Churches are adorned with an array of candles and flowers, and special Masses foster spiritual reflection and a reaffirmation of faith.

Celebrations of Candlemas take place in churches and religious communities across the globe. The Vatican in Rome hosts a special Mass, drawing pilgrims and visitors alike. The Basilica of the Presentation of the Lord in Jerusalem is a key site for Candlemas celebrations, believed to be the location of the biblical event. Other significant locations, such as Notre-Dame in Paris and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, provide beautiful services and a serene atmosphere for reflection. These destinations offer a profound opportunity to immerse oneself in the spiritual significance and traditions of Candlemas.

Setsubun (February 3)

Setsubun, celebrated on February 3rd in Japan, marks the end of winter and the arrival of spring. This festival focuses on driving away evil spirits and inviting good fortune. Let’s explore the unique cultural celebrations and top destinations associated with Setsubun.

A central part of Setsubun is the “mamemaki” ritual, where roasted soybeans are thrown to expel evil spirits. As people chant “Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi” (Out with the demons, in with good fortune), they scatter the beans. It is believed that catching and eating the same number of beans as one’s age brings good luck. Additionally, some households place holly leaves and sardine heads at their entrances to ward off evil spirits, symbolizing purification and renewal.

Celebrations take place across Japan, with temples and shrines holding special ceremonies. The most famous Setsubun event occurs at Senso-ji Temple in Tokyo, where thousands gather to witness the bean-throwing ritual performed by celebrities and sumo wrestlers. Other cities like Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara offer unique cultural experiences during Setsubun, with various temples and shrines hosting their own ceremonies and festivities. These destinations provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant traditions and joyful celebrations of Setsubun.

These winter holidays around the world is undoubtly a season of wonder and celebration, with each culture and country offering its unique traditions and festivities. From the religious significance of Hanukkah and Christmas to the ancient customs of Saturnalia and Imbolc, these winter holidays around the world bring people together, fostering a sense of community and joy.

Whether you find yourself in the snowy landscapes of Scandinavia, the bustling streets of New York City, or the serene temples of Japan, there is a magical winter holiday waiting to be experienced. Embrace the spirit of the season and create lasting memories as you explore the world’s diverse celebrations.


How many winter holidays around the world are there?

There are numerous winter holidays celebrated around the world, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Day, and Diwali (in some regions).

What are the three most common winter holidays around the world?

Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Day.

How do different cultures celebrate different winter holidays around the world?

Different cultures around the world celebrate winter holidays in various ways.


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About the author

Colleen Lim