While we here in Australia mostly celebrate Christmas in December, different cultures and countries around the world have other celebrations. Here are a few.
Why December is such a festive month around the world
Beyond all traditions and faiths, late December marks what is known in the northern hemisphere as the ‘Winter Solstice’. For us down under, it’s the summer solstice. What does this mean? Due to the position of the Earth at this time of year on it’s orbit around the sun, this is darkest/lightest day of the year, depending what side of the earth you are. As most ancient civilisations were in the north, it was thought of as the start of winter. This led to many cultures around the world coincidentally creating traditions around this time of year. Including Christianity who would label it as Jesus’s birth, despite many bible scholars and church officials stating that his birth was very unlikely to have been in winter due to descriptions in the texts.
Chinese Dōngzhì Festival
The Dōngzhì Festival (冬至), which translates as Winter Solstice Festival literally translates as “the extreme of winter”. It is one of the most celebrated Chinese festivals and is also celebrated by Japanese and Koreans around December 22.
The making and eating of (湯圓), brightly coloured balls of glutinous rice is tradition on this day as it symbolises reunion. Each family member will eat at least one large tangyuan in addition to several small ones. It’s often served alongside an alcoholic unfiltered rice wine.
Yule is a festival observed mainly by the historical Germanic peoples. Scholars believe it can be traced to the celebration to the Pagan god known as Odin. It is also believed for the reason Christmas is celebrated on December 25. Yule can also be what many Europeans call Christmas.
Kwanzaa is a celebration held mainly in the United States by African Americans, but in other nations of the African diaspora as well. The weeklong celebration isn’t a religious festival, but instead honours African heritage in African-American culture and is observed between December 26 and January 1. Though like Christmas, a feast and gift sharing is part of it.
Kwanzaa was started by Black Power activist and secular humanist Maulana Karenga who said it was meant to be an alternative to Christmas as he believed Jesus was psychotic and Christianity was a “white” religion. Though many celebrate it alongside Christmas, rather than alternatively. Karenga clarified it in 1997 as “a celebration of family, community, and culture. Kwanzaa was not created to give people an alternative to their own religion or religious holiday.”
This Jewish is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar. With a slight difference in dates to our Gregorian calendar, this can be in November to late December. Those of the Jewish faither may also refer to it as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.
The festival is infamous for lighting the candles of a candelabrum which has nine branches. The top candle is known as the shamash and each night, one additional candle is lit by the shamash across the eight days.
Hanukkah festivities include playing with a spinning toy known as a dreidel and eating doughnuts and latkes.
A Festivus for the rest of us
Made famous by the 90s sitcom Seinfeld, Originally a family tradition of scriptwriter Dan O’Keefe, who worked on the American sitcom Seinfeld, Festivus entered popular culture after it was made the focus of the 1997 episode “The Strike”.
The non-commercial holiday’s celebration, it occurs on December 23 and includes a Festivus dinner, an unadorned aluminum Festivus pole, plus the infamous “Airing of Grievances”. Instead of a Christmas tree, there’s a Festivus pole with a “very high strength-to-weight ratio”.
Celebrate anything at Lantern Club
Any reason for celebration is good enough to celebrate at Lantern Club. Whether it’s just a small family gathering in MaZi, or a full function in alfresco we can cater for it. With amazing food and service, call 8037 8200 to book your table or room hire.