Winter Holidays Around the World

shutterstock_90710545There are a number of interesting and different winter holidays celebrated around the world. Here are some tidbits about how the world celebrates this season!

Japanese New Year

New Year celebration is one of the most major events in Japan. New Year’s Eve is known as Omisoka in Japan. The Japanese spend a lot of time shopping and cleaning their houses in preparation for the new year. This symbolizes getting rid of the past and starting afresh. The celebration on the New Year’s day itself is known as Shogatsu. The Japanese decorate their houses and give their children gifts of toys and money and greeting cards to friends and family. There are certain delicacies, which are a part of the festive spread, like fish cakes, boiled seaweed, mashed sweet potato with chestnut, soybean preparation, etc. At the stroke of midnight on the 31st December, there are bells ringing in the Buddhist temples for a total of 108 times. After the ringing of the bells, there is a feast of soba noodles, which everyone partakes.

Boxing Day

Also known as St. Stephen’s Day, is celebrated the day after Christmas. On this day it is common to give gifts to the poor and needy. In some places, there is also the tradition of gifting people in service positions. The traditions followed in different parts of the world are different. In countries like New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Britain, etc., it is jokingly often referred to as ‘Shopping Day’, for there are great items for grab at discounted prices. There are various sporting events, which especially take place on this day. Hunting has been a tradition, which has been a part of celebration on this day. Although this practice is now discontinued owing to the ban on hunting in most parts of the world.

Las Posadas

This is a traditional winter holiday celebrated in Mexico, Guatemala and Southern parts of United States of America, between December 16 and December 24. The nine day celebration symbolically represents the months of pregnancy. In English, the term Las Posadas translates to ‘the Inn’, and therefore is a re-enactment of Joseph searching for a room at the inn. Hence, every Christmas, there is a procession carrying a doll, which represents Christ as a child and the images of Mary and Joseph riding a small donkey, which goes through the streets. Many houses have a nativity scenes, where the hosts enact the roles of innkeepers.

Hogmanay

This is a Scottish word which means the last day of the year and is basically celebrating the New Year, according to the Gregorian calendar, in the Scottish way. It begin on the night of December 31, lasting all through the night and carrying on until the ‘Ne’erday’ or January 1, and sometimes even carrying on to January 2, which is a bank holiday in Scotland. The customs associated with Hogmanay are different for different parts of Scotland. There is the fireball swinging custom in Stonehaven, in north-eastern part of Scotland, burning of the clavie common to Burghead in Moray, etc.

Excerpts from: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/winter-holidays-around-the-world.html