21 Dec 5 Popular Festive Celebrations around the World
Everyone loves the holidays, with the endless cooking and eating, meeting friends and family and giving or receiving presents. Millions of people go out of their way to find the perfect present, copious amounts of food and drink are enjoyed and a mood of camaraderie and goodwill is shared, even among people who might not get along other times of the year.
Festive celebrations commemorate a religious or national holiday, traditions, signify the end of a season and allow people to take a break from tedious day to day activities. Characterized by splendor and color, the sharing of special meals together, time off work and, in some cases, display of symbols of national unity, festive celebrations have existed since the dawn of time and can be found in all cultures across the globe.
As we enter the ‘holiday season’ check out the following five of the most popular festive celebrations around the world:
Christmas is one of the most popular festivals worldwide, celebrated by millions of people around the globe. The Christmas holiday takes place from the 24th of December and lasts well into the New Year. Commemorating the birth of Jesus, Christmas Day is held on 25th December and involves families coming together to share meals and gifts. It is also characterized by customs such as putting up a Christmas tree, attending church services, singing Christmas carols and receiving gifts from Santa Claus. Due to the amount of shopping for food and gifts that takes place around this time, it is also a period of heightened economic activity in many countries around the world.
Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, is a five day Hindu Festival celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, hope over despair and generally the victory of good vs. evil. It is the most popular and biggest holiday in India as well as in some Far East countries such as the Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Caribbean countries like Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago.
Celebrated between October and November, it is celebrated by lighting up the house with diyas (lights and candles), wearing new clothes, praying to the goddess Lakshmi and bursting crackers! People also exchange sweets and gifts to share their happiness and joy with everyone.
- Eid Al Fitr
Eid Al Fitr is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims around the world and it signifies the end of the 29-30 day, sunrise to sunset period of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Eid Al Fitr was first celebrated by the prophet Mohammed after coming out victorious at the battle of Jang E Badar in 624 C.E. It begins at the sighting of the new moon during the month of Shawwal and is celebrated on different days by Muslims as the moon may be sighted on different days around the world. During Eid, special religious services and prayers (Salat) are held and people celebrate by buying and wearing new clothes, exchanging gifts with loved ones, partaking in acts of charity and sharing meals.
- The Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year or Spring Festival as it is called today, is the most important holiday in China and is held on the first day of the first month in the Chinese Lunisolar calendar. The festival lasts around fifteen days from the eve of the Chinese New Year, and is characterized by activities such as visiting friends and family, going shopping, watching traditional shows, visiting tourist destinations and much more.
Professional Chinese workers also take this opportunity to enjoy a well-deserved break from work. In some instances, the festival will also include a religious ceremony to honor the elements, gods and ancestors. Vibrant and colorful, the Chinese festival is a time to enjoy fireworks, live shows and the quintessential Chinese New Year attraction: The Red Dragon.
- La Tomatina
The Spanish are known for their fiery temperaments and love for life evidenced by their vibrant celebrations and the zeal with which they take part in them. Spain boasts no less than ten festivals yearly and these include the Pamplona Bull Run, Feria De Sevilla, the Tamborrada Festival and the most famous of all, La Tomatina.
La Tomatina festival is celebrated at the end of August when the tomato harvests have come in. It attracts participants from all over the world who come to the town of Bunol, Valencia, for the sole purpose of pelting other participants with tomatoes. Over two hundred thousand pounds of tomatoes are estimated to be used during the festival and the streets of the town are left painted red temporarily after the festivities.
Festive celebrations provide people with a much needed break from normal day to day activities, help them celebrate important events and give them an opportunity to connect with loved ones and family. Most cultures around the world have some form of festivities which indicate the need to celebrate is an innate trait in human beings.
There are hundreds of thousands of festive celebrations around the world, so anyone looking to enjoy a new culture and be immersed in the most authentic way to discover languages and native traditions, should definitely try and experience these celebrations to learn and experience more.