Dec. 21st. Winter solstice. In ancient Rome, the winter solstice was celebrated at the feast of Saturnalia, while in pre-christian Britain, the end of December centered around the pagan Yule log in a fiery display to melt the heart of a cold and dreary winter. Midwinter Festival in the Druid tradition is called Alban Arthan, Welsh/Brythonic for 'the light of the bear'.
Dec. 22nd Soyal or Soyala. Hopi Native American winter solstice Prayer Offering Ceremony for good health and prosperity in the New Year
Dec. 23rd. Festivus. A secular holiday created by a writer for the Seinfeld TV show, a holiday “for the rest of us” who don’t celebrate one of the other end of the year holidays. It is celebrated with an aluminum “Festivus Pole” (instead of a decorated pine tree) and “Airing of Grievances.”
Dec. 25th. Christmas. The day most Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, the holiest day of the Christian year. In the Netherlands, Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) comes on Dec. 5th by steam boat from Portugal (really!) and is accompanied by a helper, Swartz Piet (Black Piet) who puts candy in the shoes of good boys and girls, and according to older Dutch tradition, bad children had straw or coal put in their shoes, and if they were really bad, they were taken back to Portugal by steam boat. (I'm not kidding, that is the tradition in the Netherlands).
Dec. 26th Boxing Day is celebrated the day after Christmas Day in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries. It was traditionally a day to give a box with a gift to those who have worked hard for you throughout the year. Many churches or businesses placed boxes for coins to be placed for year end gifts. Some countries now have Boxing Week to sell excess Christmas inventory at reduced prices.
Dec. 26th Kwanza begins for one week. Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce seven basic values of African culture that contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture among African American people as well as Africans throughout the world African community. These values are called the Nguzo Saba which in Swahili means the Seven Principles. Developed by Dr. Karenga, the Nguzo Saba stand at the heart of the origin and meaning of Kwanzaa, for it is these values which are not only the building blocks for community but also serve to reinforce and enhance them.
Jan. 1st. New Year’s Day celebrated in countries that follow the Gregorian calendar, but in those that follow the Julian calendar (e.g. Eastern Orthodox) New Year is celebrated on Jan 14th on the Gregorian calendar.
Have a happy holiday season and best wishes for a healthy New Year!