December is here, and this time of year, everyone knows about Christmas and the New Year! In America and much of the western world these holidays tend to afford the most focus from people during this final month of the year, and lets not forget Hanukkah which is currently in full swing! Here at Student Ambassador Exchange we hope to share a global perspective through cultural exchange and lived experiences. We’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of international holidays in December. Perhaps you’ll find one that you wish to celebrate in the future!
1. Dongzhi Festival: This festival is celebrated in many East Asian countries including China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. The Festival celebrates the Winter Solstice, an astrological phenomenon where the Northern Hemisphere experiences the shortest day and longest night of the year. Speaking generally this is a time for family to come together and reflect upon the yin and yang philosophy of balance and harmony in the cosmos. The Festival tends to fall around the 22nd of December.
2. St. Lucia’s Day in Nordic Europe: In Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland, Lucy (called Lucia) is venerated on December 13 in a ceremony where a girl is elected to portray Lucia. Wearing a white gown with a red sash and a crown of candles on her head, she walks at the head of a procession of women, each holding a candle. Even boys take part in the procession as well, playing different roles associated with Christmas. It is said that to vividly celebrate St. Lucia’s Day will help one live the long winter days with enough light. This holiday is held on December 13th.
3. International Solidarity Day of Azerbaijanis: Inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall, the nationalist Popular Front of Azerbaijan called for and lead the removal of borders between Soviet Azerbaijan and Iran on December 31, 1989. This has since been celebrated by Azerbaijanis around the world as the International Solidarity Day of Azerbaijanis and is a public holiday in Azerbaijan. This holiday falls on the 31st of December.
4. International Human Rights Day in Cambodia: This national holiday was established to commemorate the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This day is celebrated on the 10th of December, and is usually marked by collective assembly and marches in many main cities across the country.
5. Independence Day in Finland: Finish Independence day is celebrated on December 6th. Following the Russian Revolutions of 1917, Finish parliamentarians drafted a declaration of independence from Russian dominion. The Presidential Independence Day reception is held for approximately 2000 invited guests at the Presidential Palace. This event, known informally also as Linnanjuhlat (“the Castle Ball”), is broadcast on national television and has been a perennial favorite of the viewing public.