List of winter festivals

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The winter solstice is the time at which the Sun appears at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon.[1] In the Northern Hemisphere this is the Southern solstice, the time at which the Sun is at its southernmost point in the sky, which usually occurs on December 21 to 22 each year.[2] In the Southern Hemisphere this is the Northern solstice, the time at which the Sun is at its northernmost point in the sky, which usually occurs on June 20 to 21 each year.[3]

Many festivals of light take place during the winter or late autumn.

The period of time around the winter solstice is sometimes known as the holiday season because many holidays and celebrations of different religions and cultures take place around this time.


  • Halloween: 31 October
  • Samhain: 31 October-1 November - first day of winter in the Celtic calendar (and Celtic New Year's Day)
  • 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. It occurs during October or November.
  • Bhau-beej
  • Dia de los muertos: 31 October-2 November





  • Imbolc: 1 February - first day of spring in the Celtic calendar
  • Candlemas: 2 February - Feast of the Presentation of the Lord; 40 days after Christmas; end of Christmas/Epiphany Season
  • Hedgehog Day: 2 February - supposed archaic European version of Groundhog Day, dating back to Roman times.
  • Lupercalia, the Roman end-of-winter festival - 15 February
  • Valentine's Day: 14 February


  • Inti Raymi: Festival of the Sun in Quechua, winter solstice festival in areas of the former Inca empire, still celebrated every June in Cusco.


  • Yulefest, Midwinter Christmas around late June or July - Australian New Zealand winter 'Christmas/Yuletide' (Although this is sometimes celebrated in the USA, where celebrations generally begin on 4th July.

Other calendars[edit]



Main article: Hebrew calendar
  • Hanukkah: Starting on 25 Kislev (Hebrew) or various dates in November or December (Gregorian) - eight-day festival commemorating the miracle of the oil after the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes and his defeat in 165 BCE.
  • Tu Bishvat: New Year of the Trees occurring on the 15th of Shevat, January or February.
  • 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


Main article: Iranian calendars
  • Sadeh: A mid-winter feast to honor fire and to "defeat the forces of darkness, frost and cold". Sadé or Sada is an ancient Iranian tradition celebrated 50 days before Nowruz. Sadeh in Persian means "hundred" and refers to one hundred days and nights left to the beginning of the new year celebrated at the first day of spring on March 21 each year. Sadeh is a midwinter festival that was celebrated with grandeur and magnificence in ancient Iran. It was a festivity to honor fire and to defeat the forces of darkness, frost, and cold.
  • 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. Chahārshanbe-Sūri (Persian: چهارشنبه‌سوری), pronounced Chārshanbe-Sūri (Persian: چارشنبه‌سوری) is the ancient Iranian festival dating at least back to 1700 BCE of the early Zoroastrian era.[1] The festival of fire is a prelude to the ancient Norouz festival, which marks the arrival of spring and revival of nature. Chahrshanbeh Soori, is celebrated the last Tuesday night of the year.


Main article: Nanakshahi calendar


Main article: Julian calendar


  • Zamenhof Day: 15 December - Birthday of Ludwig Zamenhof, inventor of Esperanto; holiday reunion for Esperantists
  • HumanLight: 23 December - Humanist holiday originated by the New Jersey Humanist Network in celebration of "a Humanist's vision of a good future."[7]
  • Newtonmas: 25 December - As an alternative to celebrating the religious holiday Christmas, some atheists, skeptics, and other non-believers have chosen to celebrate December 25 as Newtonmas, due to it being Isaac Newton's birthday on the old style date.
  • Quaid-e-Azam's Day: 25 December
  • Constitution of the Republic of China (Taiwan): 25 December - a secular national holiday, which due to its date is celebrated in some respects like Christmas
  • Martin Luther King Day 15 January - Birthday of American civil rights movement leader, a federal holiday on or near the date.

Winter festivals in popular culture[edit]

  • Winter-een-mas: The annual week long celebration of video games and the people who play them.[8] Winter-een-mas is a holiday that takes place every year from January 25 to 31,[9] but is also commonly celebrated for a month. The entire month of January constitutes the Winter-een-mas season, very similar to the "Christmas season", where people begin to gear up for the holiday, and get into the spirit of things. The holiday was started by the fictional character Ethan in webcomic Ctrl+Alt+Del[9] by Tim Buckley. Its stated goal is to "celebrate the joy of video gaming".[citation needed] Many gaming stores, such as EB Games, celebrate the holiday.[9]
  • Freezingman: - 11 January - A Burning Man inspired event held in Colorado as a Winter Arts and Music Festival.[10]
  • Feast of Winter Veil: - December 15 to January 2 - A holiday in the MMORPG World of Warcraft. This holiday is based on Christmas. Cities are decorated with lights and a tree with presents. Special quests, items and snowballs are available to players during this time. The character of "Greatfather Winter", who is modeled after Santa Claus, appears.[11][12]
  • Feast of Alvis: in the TV series Sealab 2021.[13] "Believer, you have forgotten the true meaning of Alvis Day. Neither is it ham, nor pomp. Nay, the true meaning of Alvis day is drinking. Drinking and revenge."—Alvis[14]
  • Hogswatch: a holiday celebrated on the fictional world of Discworld. It is very similar to the Christian celebration of Christmas.
  • 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, and it has been stated that Decemberween traditionally takes place "55 days after Halloween". The holiday has been featured in the Homestar Runner series.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ winter solstice. Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved September 23, 2012
  2. ^ solstice. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved May 13, 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  3. ^ solstice. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved May 13, 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  4. ^ Skinner, Donald E.. "Chalica, new weeklong UU holiday, slowly gains adherents". Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "NERDS GATHER, MINGLE AT CSU, FROM GAMERS TO ROLE-PLAYERS, CONVENTION CATERS TO LOCAL GEEKS". Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (GA). March 25, 2007. pp. D1 LOCAL. Retrieved 18 February 2011. "Winter-een-mas is a yearly celebration during which gamers congregate to play video games for a whole week." 
  9. ^ a b c Mertes, Micah (2008-01-24). "Happy Winter-een-mas! Keep on playing". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved 18 February 2011. "weeklong festival ... began in 2003. ... Jan. 25-31 every year, comes from “Ctrl+Alt+Del,” a comic" 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Feast of Winter Veil, World of Warcraft - Europe
  12. ^ Feast of Winter Veil, WoWWiki
  13. ^
  14. ^