When it comes to the winter holidays, Christmas takes up a lot of air space. Celebrated around the world, Christmas is considered both a religious holiday, honoring the birth of Jesus, and a cultural one, with a history and tradition that combines Christian beliefs with ancient folklore and pagan rituals. For some, Christmas isn’t Christian at all, but a time for fir trees, Santa, and food.
The traditional Christmas story tells of Joseph and Mary making their way to Bethlehem, trying to find a room for the night, and subsequently staying in a barn where Mary gave birth to Jesus. However, Jesus’ birthdate is not actually known, and the customs traditionally enjoyed during the Christmas holiday started long before his birth. The winter solstice was celebrated for centuries before Christianity, with feasts that involved the burning of yule logs, decorating homes with fir trees, and providing gifts and food to family members. As Christianity took hold, Dec. 25 was chosen as the day to honor the birth of Christ, with the speculation that having a Christian celebration at the same time as pagan rituals would help promote the religion and bring more followers.
In 1870, Christmas was declared a federal holiday and is now one of the most popular holidays in the United States, as well as being widely celebrated in other countries.
But Christmas isn’t the only holiday celebrated during the winter season. There are a plethora of other holidays that are culturally significant to their countries of origin, some of which have festivities that far exceed even the most ostentatious Christmas celebration.
From religious festivals to ceremonies honoring the change of seasons, as well as secular events that take place in many different countries, Stacker gathered information from various sources to compile a list of fall and winter holidays celebrated all over the world. These include holidays celebrated on a national and local level, religious days, and long-standing cultural traditions.
Take a look at these 20 diverse holidays celebrated between October and February.