Christmas Day or Christmas falls on December 25. It is preceded by Christmas Eve on December 24, and in some countries is followed by Boxing Day on December 26. Some Eastern Orthodox Churches celebrate Christmas on January 7. An annual holiday that marks the traditional birthdate of Jesus of Nazareth, Christmas combines the celebration of Jesus' birth with various other traditions and customs, many of which were influenced by winter festivals such as Yule and Saturnalia. Christmas traditions include the display of Nativity scenes and Christmas trees, the exchange of gifts and cards, and the arrival of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
Christmas is celebrated in most countries around the world, owing to the spread of Christianity
and Western culture
, along with the enduring popularity of wintertime celebrations. Various local and regional Christmas traditions are still practiced, despite the widespread influence of American
Christmas motifs disseminated by film, popular literature, television, and other media.
Easter, also known as Pascha, the Feast of the Resurrection, the Sunday of the Resurrection, or Resurrection Day, is the most important religious feast of the Christian liturgical year, observed between late March and late April. It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, which his followers believe occurred on the third day after his death by crucifixion some time in the period AD 27 to 33 (see Good Friday). In the Roman Catholic Church, Easter is actually an eight-day feast called the Octave of Easter. Easter also refers to the season of the church year, lasting for fifty days, from Easter Sunday through Pentecost.
In Western Christianity, Easter always falls on a Sunday from March 22
to April 25
inclusive. The following day, Easter Monday
, is a legal holiday
in many countries with predominantly Christian traditions. In Eastern Christianity, Easter falls between April 4
and May 8
between 1900 and 2100 based on the Gregorian date. As with many other Christian dates, the celebration of Easter extends beyond the church. Since its origins, it has been a time of celebration and feasting. Today it is commercially important, seeing wide sales of greeting cards
and confectionery such as chocolate Easter eggs
, marshmallow bunnies, Peeps
, and jelly beans
Halloween or Hallowe'en is a tradition celebrated on the night of October 31, most notably by children dressing in costumes and going door-to-door collecting sweets, fruit, and other treats. Apart from this trick-or-treating, there are many other traditional Halloween activities. Some of these include costume parties, watching horror films, going to "haunted" houses, and traditional autumn activities such as hayrides, some of these even "haunted".
Halloween originated under a different name as a pagan
festival among the Celts
of Ireland and Great Britain. Halloween is celebrated in most parts of the Western world
, most commonly in the United States, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Peru , and with increasing popularity in Australia and New Zealand. In recent years, Halloween has also been celebrated in parts of Western Europe, such as Belgium, France and Spain. The holiday was a day of religious festivities in various northern European Pagan traditions, until Popes Gregory III
and Gregory IV
moved the old Christian feast of All Saints' Day
from May 13 to November 1.
Saint Valentine's Day or Valentine's Day falls on February 14. It is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other; sending Valentine's cards and candy, often anonymously. The holiday is named after two men, both Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day became associated with romantic love in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.
The day was most closely associated with the mutual exchange of love notes in the form of "valentines". Modern Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline and the figure of the winged Cupid
. Since the 19th century
, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards
. The Greeting Card Association
estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas
. The association estimates that women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines. In the United States, the marketing of Valentine's Day has tagged it as a "Hallmark holiday
New Year's Eve is December 31, the final day of the Gregorian year, and the day before New Year's Day. New Year's Eve is a separate observance from the observance of New Year's Day. In 21st-century Western practice, the celebration involves partying until the moment of the transition of the year at midnight. Drinking champagne is also a major part of the festivities.
Within many cultures the use of fireworks
and other noise making is a major part of the celebration in cities such as Berlin
, New York City
, Rio de Janeiro
. New Year's Eve is a public non-working holiday
in the following countries, among others: Australia
, New Zealand
, the Philippines
, and Venezuela
Earth Day is a name used by two different observances held annually in the (northern) spring, both intended to inspire awareness of and appreciation for the Earth's environment. Earth Day is in the public domain and open to all persons to shape. Some grassroots Earth Day organizers seek to move the date of the observance to the summer solstice, to take advantage of the warm temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere (where most people live) to create greater participation.
The equinoctial Earth Day, also International Earth Day, is celebrated on the vernal equinox
to mark the precise moment that spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere
in the Southern Hemisphere
. John McConnell
first introduced the idea of a global holiday called Earth Day
at a UNESCO Conference on the Environment in 1969
, the same year that he designed the Earth flag
. The first Earth Day
proclamation was issued by San Francisco
Mayor Joseph Alioto
on March 21, 1970.
May Day is May 1, and refers to any of several holidays celebrated on this day. May 1 was a traditional springtime holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures, and many elements of these holidays are still celebrated on May 1 today, such as the Maypole. "May Day" also refers to various socialist and labor movement celebrations conducted on May 1, unrelated to the traditional celebrations, to commemorate the Haymarket Riot of 1886 and the international socialist movement generally.
The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian Europe
, as in the Celtic
celebration of Beltane
, and the Walpurgis Night
of the Germanic
countries. Although the pagan-oriented celebrations faded as Europe became Christianised, a more secular version of the holiday continued to be observed in the schools and churches of Europe well into the 20th century. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the Maypole
and crowning of the Queen of the May
. Today many Neopagans
, especially Wiccans
, celebrate reconstructed versions of the old pagan holidays on May 1
Mother's Day is a holiday honouring mothers, celebrated (on various days) in many places around the world. Mothers often receive gifts on this day. Mother's Day is a strange time of year for mail in many countries. In 1973, mail delivery through the U.S. Postal Service was delayed for eight days because of the amount of mail. Telephone networks are also at their busiest on Mother's Day. Mother's Day is the number one holiday for flowers purchased throughout the year.
Different countries celebrate Mother's Day on various days of the year because the day has a number of different origins. One school of thought claims this day emerged from a custom of mother worship in ancient Greece
. Mother worship — which kept a festival to Cybele
, a great mother of gods, and Rhea
, the wife of Cronus
— was held around the Vernal Equinox
around Asia Minor
and eventually in Rome itself from the Ides of March
) to March 18
. The Romans also had another holiday, Matronalia
, that was dedicated to Juno, though mothers were usually given gifts on this day.
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights or Festival of Rededication, is an eight-day Jewish holiday beginning on the 25th day of Kislev, which can occur in very late November, or throughout December. When Hanukkah begins in the last week of December, it continues into the following January. The festival is observed in Jewish homes by the kindling of lights on each of the festival's eight nights, one on the first night, two on the second, and so on.
, the word Hanukkah is written חנֻכה
. The holiday was called Hanukkah
meaning "dedication" because it marks the re-dedication of the Temple after its desecration under Antiochus IV
. Spiritually, Hanukkah commemorates the Miracle of the Oil. According to the Talmud
, at the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem
following the victory of the Maccabees
over the Seleucid Empire
, there was only enough consecrated olive oil
to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days - which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate new oil.
The Winter Solstice or Midwinter, depending on the shift of the calendar, occurs some time between December 20 and December 23 in the northern hemisphere, and between June 20 and June 23 in the southern hemisphere, during either the shortest day or longest night of the year. Though the winter solstice lasts an instant, the term is also colloquially used to refer to the full 24-hour day on which it occurs.
The seasonal significance of the winter solstice
is in the reversal of the gradually lengthening nights and shortening days. Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied from culture to culture, but most cultures have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays
, gatherings, rituals
or other celebrations
around that time.
Thanksgiving is an annual one-day holiday to give thanks, traditionally to God, for the things one has at the end of the harvest season. In the United States, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Certain kinds of food are traditionally served at Thanksgiving meals. First and foremost, turkey is usually the featured item on any Thanksgiving feast table (so much so that Thanksgiving is sometimes referred to as "Turkey Day"). Stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, Indian corn, other fall vegetables, and pumpkin pie are commonly associated with Thanksgiving dinner. All of these primary dishes are actually native to the Americas or were introduced as a new food source to the Europeans when they arrived.
In New York City
, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
is held annually every Thanksgiving Day on the Upper West Side of Manhattan
. Families and friends usually gather for a large meal or dinner, the result being that the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is one of the busiest travel
periods of the year. Known as "Black Friday
", the day after Thanksgiving, is one of the largest shopping days in the U.S. Although most stores actually start to stock for and promote the December holidays immediately after Halloween
, and sometimes even before. American football
is often a major part of Thanksgiving celebrations in the U.S. with the National Football League playing a series of Thanksgiving Day games
since its founding.
Portal:Holidays/Selected article/12 Cinco de Mayo is a national holiday in Mexico which is also widely celebrated in the United States. It commemorates the victory of Mexican forces led by General Ignacio Zaragoza over the French occupational forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
It is a common misconception that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico's Independence Day
, which is celebrated on September 16th
, but actually it is a celebration of the battle. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the legendary Battle of Puebla, Mexico on May 5, 1862 in which a Mexican force of 4,500 men faced 6,000 men of the well trained forces of Napoleon III
's French Army. The battle, which lasted all of four hours ended in a moral and physical victory for the Mexican Army under the 33 year old General Ignacio Zaragoza
Saint Patrick's Day, colloquially Paddy's Day, is the feast day which annually celebrates Saint Patrick (386-493), the patron saint of Ireland, on March 17. It is a national holiday in the Republic of Ireland, the overseas territory of Montserrat, and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated worldwide by Irish people
and increasingly by many of non-Irish descent. Celebrations are generally themed around all things green and Irish; both Christians
and non-Christians celebrate the secular version of the holiday by wearing green
, eating Irish food
and imbibing Irish drink, and attending parades. The St. Patrick's Day parade in Dublin, Ireland
is part of a five day festival, with over 500,000 people attending the 2006 parade. The largest St. Patrick's Day parade is held in New York City and it is watched by 2 million spectators. The St. Patrick's Day parade was first held in New York City on 17 March 1766 when Irish soldiers marched through the city. As well as being a celebration of Irish culture, Saint Patrick's Day is a Christian festival celebrated in the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland
and some other denominations. The day always falls in the season of Lent
Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival/Lunar New Year, is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. The Chinese New Year period lasts for 15 days, beginning on the first day of the first lunar month of the Chinese calendar. The holiday period ends on the 15th day of the festival. Chinese New Year is also the time when the largest human migration takes place when overseas Chinese all around the world return home on the eve of Chinese New Year to have reunion dinners with their families.
According to legend, in ancient China
("Nyan"), a man-eating beast from the mountains, could infiltrate houses silently to prey on humans. The people later learned that nian
was sensitive to loud noises and the color red, so they scared it away with explosions, fireworks
and the liberal use of the color red. So guo nian
actually means surviving the nian
. These customs led to the first New Year celebrations. Celebrated internationally in areas with large populations of ethnic Chinese
. Chinese New Year is considered to be a major holiday for the Chinese as well as ethnic groups who were strongly influenced by Chinese culture
. This includes Japanese
(Chinese Hmong), Mongolians
, the Nepalese
and the Bhutanese
Burning Man is an eight-day-long festival organized by Black Rock City, LLC, under the guidance of founder Larry Harvey. The festival is held annually and ends on the American Labor Day holiday in September. The festival takes place on the playa of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, 90 miles (150 km) north-northeast of Reno. Though the specific location on the playa changes from year to year, the location has been quite constant in recent years. The temporary city is an experiment in community, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance. The event takes its name from the ritual of burning a large wooden sculpture of a man on the sixth day.
The annual event now known as Burning Man began on the summer solstice
in 1986 when Larry Harvey
, Jerry James, and a few friends met on Baker Beach
in San Francisco
and burned an eight foot (2.4 m) tall wooden man as well as a smaller wooden dog. The inspiration for burning these effigy figures has been explained by Harvey as "a spontaneous act of radical self-expression."
Kwanzaa is a week-long Pan-African festival primarily honoring African-American heritage. It is observed from December 26 to January 1 each year, almost exclusively in the United States of America. Kwanzaa consists of seven days of celebration, featuring activities such as candle-lighting and pouring of libations, and culminating in a feast and gift-giving. It was created by Ron Karenga, and first celebrated from December 26, 1966, to January 1, 1967. Karenga calls Kwanzaa the African American branch of "first fruits" celebrations of classical African cultures.
It is unclear how many people celebrate the holiday. According to a marketing survey conducted by the National Retail Foundation
in 2004, Kwanzaa is celebrated by 1.6% of all Americans (about 13% of all African-Americans), or about 4.7 million. In a 2006 speech, Karenga asserted that 28 million people celebrate Kwanzaa. He has always maintained it is celebrated all over the world.
The Day of Ashura is on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram but not the Islamic month. This day is well-known because of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala in the year 61 AH (AD 680). This day is really important for shia muslims and fasting in this day is HARAM.
The word ashura
means simply tenth
in Arabic; hence the name of the remembrance
, literally translated, means "the tenth day". Islamic scholars, however, give various explanations as to why it is thus called.
St. George's Day is celebrated by several nations of whom Saint George is the patron saint, including Georgia, Bulgaria, Portugal, England, Catalonia and the Gora. For England, St. George's Day also marks its National Day. Most countries who observe St. George's Day celebrate it on 23 April, the traditionally accepted date of Saint George's death in 303. For those Eastern Orthodox Churches that follow the Julian calendar, 23 April is equal to 6 May, Gregorian calendar. The Country of Georgia celebrates it on 23 November.
His feast date remains the second most important National Feast in Catalonia
. There, it is known in Catalan
as Diada de Sant Jordi
and it is traditional to give a rose and a book to a loved one. This tradition inspired UNESCO
to declare this the International Day of the Book, since 23 April 1616 was also the date of the death of the English playwright William Shakespeare
and the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes
Portal:Holidays/Selected article/19 Portal:Holidays/Selected article/19
Portal:Holidays/Selected article/20 Portal:Holidays/Selected article/20