Holiday Celebrations around the world

August 25, 2017
Around the world, family

istockphoto/nemar74Dec­o­rat­ing a tree, shop­ping, and fire­works are all great and time-honored ways to cel­e­brate the hol­i­days in Amer­ica, but other parts of the world have their own unique take on the sea­son. We all like to be home for the hol­i­days, but if you can’t, maybe these cel­e­bra­tions will give you the inspi­ra­tion to travel instead. See­ing these fes­tiv­i­ties first-hand is a great reminder of the how, regard­less of where we’re from, how much this time of year means to many of us. At a min­i­mum, you may get an idea for putting your own unique spin on your own hol­i­day celebrations.

San­tarun, New­town, Wales
Occur­ing in the last week of Novem­ber or the first week in Decem­ber, the San­tarun is exactly as it sounds—lots of par­tic­i­pants, many dress­ing up as Santa, run­ning in a long-distance race. About 5000 peo­ple con­gre­gate to jog over 7 kilo­me­ters. The real jolly Old St. Nick would have a dif­fi­cult time keep­ing up with the par­tic­i­pants in this run, many who can clock times of 18 min­utes or less. The run is orga­nized by char­ity, mean­ing the San­tas in this run help give their own gifts to the needy, and you may even be part of the run that breaks a Guin­ness World Record. All in all you, can keep off a lit­tle hol­i­day weight, be char­i­ta­ble, and maybe even be part of history.

Hog­manay, Scot­land
Hog­manay is the cel­e­bra­tion of the last day of the year, as is cel­e­brated in dis­tinc­tive Scot­tish fash­ion. While many Amer­i­cans kiss or set off fire­works at the stroke of mid­night, the Scot­tish prac­tice “first-footing, ” where you attempt to be the first to cross the thresh­old of a friend or neigh­bor to grant them good luck gifts for the new year. While New York drops a lit-up ball to com­mem­o­rate the New Year, the town of Stone­haven, Aberdeen­shire lights balls on fire and swing them around their heads like mad men.©istockphoto/luoman That’s right, par­tic­i­pants fills balls of chicken wire with flam­ma­ble mate­r­ial and parade around the city, whip­ping them about before cast­ing them into the har­bor. Try this in Amer­ica and you may be spend­ing the New Year in jail, but in Scot­land this is greeted with large crowds, pipe bands, and in case there weren’t enough pyrotech­nics already, a fire­works display.

Réveil­lon, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
How’s New Years on the beach sound? That’s how it’s cel­e­brated in the Brazil­ian cap­i­tal, where mil­lions con­gre­gate on the sands of Copaca­bana to watch the cal­en­dar roll over. The crowds typ­i­cally dress in white and bring with them lilies to sac­ri­fice to Yemanja, God­dess of the Sea, who grants them three wishes in return.©istockphoto/ShootOutLoud Live per­for­mances enter­tain rev­el­ers until mid­night, when large barges set of fire­works for the enter­tain­ment of those on shore. Party goers will then often move on to Ipanema Beach, where fes­tiv­i­ties can con­tinue until the early morn­ing. And as most world trav­el­ers can tell you, Brazil­ians def­i­nitely know how to party.

Quema del Dia­blo, Guatemala
Chris­tians in Amer­ica and sev­eral other coun­tries cel­e­brate Christ­mas as Jesus’s birth­day, and com­mem­o­rate his role as con­quer­ing Satan to save the souls of all mankind. Guatemalan Chris­tians also express Jesus and Mary’s tri­umph over the devil by lit­er­ally burn­ing him. Every Decem­ber 7, at a pre­cise time, fam­i­lies build bon­fires out­sides their homes and burn effi­gies of Satan. The tra­di­tion is a way of cleans­ing their home of demons and serves as a lead-in to the Feast of the Immac­u­late Con­cep­tion and the hol­i­day sea­son in gen­eral. You have to admit, once you’ve seen the devil on fire, Thanks­giv­ing parades and Black Fri­day seem down­right tame by comparison.

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