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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Winter Holidays and Festivals

Todd Fischer, Dec. 24th, 2007

I have always been fascinated by winter holidays and festivals, so this year I started compiling a list. So far I have only trawled through Wikipedia, but by next winter I will have gone through some of my books (like 'The Dictionary of Festivals') and have a more comprehensive list, with more details regarding each event.


Navratri: Nine-day celebration worshipping female divinity, in October or November. Culminates in Dussehra. Hindu.

Diwali: Known as the Festival of Lights, this Hindu holiday celebrates the victory of good over evil. The five-day festival is marked by ceremonies, fireworks and sweets. Women dress up and decorate their hands with henna tattoos for the melas, or fairs. Many different myths are associated with Diwali, one of which celebrates the return of Lord Rama after a 14-year exile and his defeat of the demon Ravana. In the Gregorian calendar, it falls generally in the months of October or November.

Bhaubeej: Hindu, second day after Diwali.


Advent: four weeks prior to Christmas - preparing for the birth of Christ. Christian.

Samhain: November 1 - first day of winter in the Celtic calendar (and Celtic New Year's Day)

Samhain: November 1 - first day of winter in the Celtic calendar (and Celtic New Year's Day). Pagan and neopagan.

Thanksgiving - (fourth Thursday in November in United States) — Holiday generally observed as an expression of gratitude, traditionally to God, for the autumn harvest. It is traditionally celebrated with a meal shared among friends and family in which turkey is eaten. It is celebrated by many as a secular holiday, and in the USA marks the beginning of the "holiday season".

Black Friday - (Day after Thanksgiving in United States) — Day after Thanksgiving. It is generally viewed as the first day of the Christmas shopping season. Stores generally give sales and discounts to attract customers.


Eid ul-Adha: Starting on the 10th of Dhul Hijja, a four day holiday commemorating the Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael.
NOTE: The Islamic calendar is based on the moon and this festival moves with respect to the solar year. It is, however, falling in the winter in the first decade of the present [21st] Century of the common era.

Winterval: Secular name for winter festivities coined by Birmingham City Council to encompass all holidays being recognized from October to January

Saint Nicholas Day (05 December in the Netherlands, 06 December in Belgium).

Saint Nicholas' Day: December 6. Christian.

Bodhi Day: December 8 - Day of Enlightenment, celebrating the day that the historical Buddha (Shakyamuni or Siddhartha Guatama) experienced enlightenment (also known as Bodhi). Buddhist.

Rohatsu: Zen Buddhist obervance of Bodhi Day

Hanukkah - (26 Kislev - 2/3 Tevet - almost always in December) — Jewish holiday celebrating the defeat of Seleucid forces who had tried to prevent Israel from practising Judaism, and also celebrating the miracle of the Menorah lights burning for eight days with only enough (olive) oil for one day.

Chrismukkah: Slang term for the amalgam of Christmas and Hanukkah celebrated by religiously mixed families and couples. Secular.

Chrismahanukwanzakah: the modern-day merging of the holidays of Christianity's Christmas, Judaism's Hanukkah, and the African-American holiday of Kwanzaa.

Kwanamus: Fictional blend of Christmas, Ḥannukah and Kwanzaa. Fictional.

Zamenhof Day: (December 15) - Birthday of Ludwig Zamenhof, inventor of Esperanto; holiday reunion for Esperantists

Saturnalia: the Roman winter soltice festival. Dec 17 – 23.

Winter Solstice, Yule - (Winter solstice, around 21-22 December in the northern hemisphere and 21-22 June in the southern hemisphere) — The celebrations on the winter solstice, the longest night and shortest day of the year, are traditionally marked with anything that symbolizes or encourages life. Decorations of evergreens, bright objects and lights; singing songs, giving gifts, feasting and romantic events are often included. For Neopagans this is the celebration of the death and rebirth of the sun and is one of the eight sabbats on the wheel of the year.

Yule: the Germanic winter solstice festival

Yule: (Winter Solstice) - Germanic Pagan festival of the rebirth of the Sun. Pagan and neopagan.

Winter Solstice: December 21~December 22 – midwinter. Celtic.

Winter Solstice: (December 21) - New Age festival. Pagan and neopagan.

Yalda: The turning point, Winter Solstice (December 21). End of the longest night of the year (Darkness), and beginning of growing of the days (Lights). A celebration of Good over Evil. Iranian/Persian.

Global Orgasm Day. Dec 22. Dec. 22 is globally recognized as Orgasm Day! Express yourself in any way you see fit! Grab a boy, girl, or grab both! But make sure you grab something then take yourself up, up, and away! YAY! Oh, and one more thing, You're welcome! http://www.globalorgasm.org/

Karachun - the ancient Slavs polytheistic winter solstice festival.

Dong zhi: Winter solstice Chinese, on or around Dec 22.

Modranect: or Mothers' Night, the Saxon winter solstice festival.

Festivus (23 December). Fictional.

HumanLight: (December 23) - Humanist holiday originated by the New Jersey Humanist Network. Secular.

Christmas Eve - (24 December) — Day before Christmas. Observances usually include big feasts at night to celebrate the day to come. It is the supposed night that Santa Claus delivers presents to all the good children of the world.

Christmas Day - (25 December) — Christian holiday commemorating the traditional birth-date of Jesus. Observances include gift-giving, the decoration of trees and houses, and Santa Claus folktales.

Festival of the birth of the Unconquered Sun: late Roman Empire - December 25. Roman.
Festival of the Bells: Midwinter celebration in Fraggle Rock, also mentioned in A Muppet Family Christmas.

Wintersday: The annual winter holiday in the MMORPG Guild Wars. This holiday is based on Christmas and Yule and one can get neat hats.

12 Days of Christmas: December 25 through January 6. Christian.

Signature of the Constitution of the Republic of China (Taiwan) : December 25 - a secular national holiday, which due to its date is celebrated in some respects like Christmas

Yuletide: (December 25) - Classic and modern, respectively, terms for the social and federal December 25th holiday. Secular.

Decemberween: (from the Homestar Runner flash cartoon). The characters also celebrate an annual holiday called "Decemberween", a parody of Christmas that features gift-giving, carol-singing, and decorated trees. The fact that it takes place on December 25, the same day as Christmas, has been presented as just a coincidence, stating that Decemberween traditionally takes place "55 days after Halloween".

Saint Stephen's Day: December 26. Christian.

Kwanzaa (USA) - (26 December - 1 January) — A modern American invention held from December 26 to January 1 honoring African-American heritage, primarily in the United States. It was invented in 1966 by black activist and marxist Ron Karenga.

St Stephen's Day or Second Day of Christmas (26 December) — Holiday observed in many European countries.

Boxing Day (26 December or 27 December) — Holiday observed in many Commonwealth countries on the first non-Sunday after Christmas.

Saint John the Evangelist's Day: December 27. Christian.

Holy Innocents' Day: December 28. Christian.

Saint Sylvester's Day: December 31. Christian.

Watch Night: December 31. Christian.

New Year's Eve - (31 December) — Night before New Year's Day. Usually observed with celebrations and festivities in anticipation of the new year.

Hogmanay: (Night of December 31 - Before dawn of January 1) - Scottish New Years Eve Celebration

Hogswatchnight: December 32 - New Year's Eve/Christmas in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels (plays on Hogmanay, Watch Night, and "hogwash")


New Year's Day - (1 January) — Holiday observing the first day of the year in the Gregorian calendar.

Feast of the Circumcision: January 1. Christian.

Feast of Fools: January 1. Christian.

Twelfth Night: Epiphany Eve January 5. Christian.

Epiphany - January 6: the arrival of the Three Magi.. Christian.

Eastern Orthodox Christmas according to the Julian Calendar: January 7. Christian.

Sadeh: A mid-winter feast to honor fire and to "defeat the forces of darkness, frost and cold". Iranian/Persian. 50 days before March 21 (nowrouz).

Winter-een-mas (The season lasts all of January, however the actual holiday itself is 25 January - 31 January). Fictional. from Ctrl+Alt+Del

Burns Night: (January 25) - Birthday of Robert Burns. Secular.

Tu Bishvat: New Year of the Trees occurring on the 15th of Shevat, January or February. Jewish.

Chinese New Year (late January - early February) - considered the end of winter in the traditional Chinese calendar


Quebec City Winter Carnival: (February) - Annual celebration of winter. Secular.

Imbolc: February 1 - first day of spring in the Celtic calendar

Imbolc : (February 1 or 2) - festival of candles. Pagan and neopagan.

Candlemas: February 2. Christian.

Groundhog Day: (February 2). Secular.

Hedgehog Day: February 2 - supposed archaic European version of Groundhog Day, dating back to Roman times. Fictional.

St. Valentine's Day: February 14. Christian and secular.

Purim: Occurring on 14th or 15th day of Adar, late February to March, commemorating the miraculous deliverance and victory of the Jews of the Persian Empire in the events recorded in the Book of Esther. Jewish.

Lupercalia, the Roman end-of-winter festival - February 15

Fur Rondy: (Late February and early March]) - Winter celebration in Anchorage, Alaska. Secular.


Chahar Shanbeh Suri: Festival of Fire, Last Wednesday of the Iranian Calendar year. It marks the importance of the light over the darkness, and arrival of spring and revival of nature. March 20 or 21st. Iranian/Persian.


Matariki: (Māori New Year, usually early June) - Rising of the Pleiades star cluster before dawn.




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