List of winter festivals

This is an incomplete list of festivals and holidays that take place during the winter or late autumn in the northern hemisphere. Many festivals of light take place in this period since the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere is the Winter Solstice.

Holidays are listed in chronological order under each heading.

Contents

Andean

  • Inti Raymi: Festival of the Sun in Quechua, winter solstice festival in areas of the former Inca empire, still celebrated every June in Cusco.

Buddhist

  • Bodhi Day: 8 December - Day of Enlightenment, celebrating the day that the historical Buddha (Shakyamuni or Siddhartha Guatama) experienced enlightenment (also known as Bodhi).

Celtic

  • Samhain: 31 October-1 November - first day of winter in the Celtic calendar (and Celtic New Year's Day)
  • Winter Solstice: 21 December-22 December - midwinter
  • Imbolc: 1 February - first day of spring in the Celtic calendar
  • Calan Gaeaf, Wales

Chinese

Christian

Germanic

  • Modranect: or Mothers' Night, the Saxon winter solstice festival.
  • Yule: the Germanic winter solstice festival

Hindu

  • Diwali:Known as the Festival of Lights, this Hindu holiday celebrates the victory of good over evil. The five-day festival is marked by ceremonies, fireworks and sweets. Women dress up and decorate their hands with henna tattoos for the melas, or fairs. Many different myths are associated with Diwali, one of which celebrates the return of Lord Rama after a 14-year exile and his defeat of the demon Ravana. It occurs during October or November.
  • Pancha Ganapati:Five-day festival in honor of Lord Ganesha, Patron of Arts and Guardian of Culture. December 21–25.
  • Bhaubeej

Jewish

  • Hanukkah: Starting on 25 Kislev (Hebrew) or various dates in November or December (Gregorian) - eight day festival commemorating the miracle of the oil after the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes and his defeat in 165 BCE.
  • Tu Bishvat: New Year of the Trees occurring on the 15th of Shevat, January or February.
  • Purim: Occurring on 14th or 15th day of Adar, late February to March, commemorating the miraculous deliverance and victory of the Jews of the Persian Empire in the events recorded in the Book of Esther

Muslim

  • Eid ul-Fitr: The first day of the 10th month, Shawwal, after the End of the Fasting month, Ramadan. Muslims celebrate the end of the sacred month and their effort during it, fasting and worshipping Allah.
  • Eid ul-Adha: Starting on the 10th of Dhul Hijja, a four day holiday commemorating the Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son, Ismael. This however is not celebrating winter, and can sometimes fall in the summer
NOTE: The Islamic calendar is based on the moon and this festival moves with respect to the solar year. It is, however, falling in the winter in the first decade of the present [21st] Century of the common era.

Pagan and Neo-Pagan

  • Samhain: 31 October - first day of winter in the Celtic calendar (and Celtic New Year's Day)
  • Yule: (Winter Solstice) - Germanic and Egyptian Pagan festival of the rebirth of the Sun
  • Imbolc: (Oimelc) (1 February or 2), but traditionally the evening of (31 January)[1]

Persian

  • Sadeh: A mid-winter feast to honor fire and to "defeat the forces of darkness, frost and cold". Sadé or Sada (Persian: سده) Jashn-e Sada/Sadé (in Persian: جشن سده), also transliterated as Sadeh, is an ancient Iranian tradition celebrated 50 days before nowrouz. Sadeh in Persian means "hundred" and refers to one hundred days and nights left to the beginning of the new year celebrated at the first day of spring on March 21 each year. Sadeh is a mid winter festival that was celebrated with grandeur and magnificence in ancient Iran. It was a festivity to honor fire and to defeat the forces of darkness, frost, and cold.
  • Yalda: The turning point, Winter Solstice (December 21). As the longest night of the year and the beginning of the lengthening of days, Shabe Yaldā (Persian: یلدا) or Shabe Chelle (Persian: شب چله) is an Iranian festival celebrating the victory of light and goodness over darkness and evil. 'Shabe yalda' means 'birthday eve.' According to Persian mythology, Mithra, the sun god, was born at dawn on the 22nd of December to a virgin mother. He symbolizes light, truth, goodness, strength, and friendship. Herodotus reports that this was the most important holiday of the year for contemporary Persians. In modern times Persians celebrate Yalda by staying up late or all night, a practice known as 'Shab Chera' meaning 'night gazing'. Friends and family gather to feast and read poetry. Bibliomancy may be practiced with the poetry of Hafiz. Fruits and nuts are eaten, especially pomegranates and watermelons. The red color of these fruits invokes the crimson hues of dawn and symbolizes Mithra.
  • Chahar Shanbeh Suri: Festival of Fire, Last Wednesday of the Iranian Calendar year. It marks the importance of the light over the darkness, and arrival of spring and revival of nature. Chahārshanbe-Sūri (Persian: چهارشنبه‌سوری), pronounced Chārshanbe-Sūri (Persian: چارشنبه‌سوری) is the ancient Iranian festival dating at least back to 1700 BCE of the early Zoroastrian era.[1] The festival of fire is a prelude to the ancient Norouz festival, which marks the arrival of spring and revival of nature. Chahrshanbeh Soori, is celebrated the last Tuesday night of the year.

Roman

  • Saturnalia: the Roman winter solstice festival
  • Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (Day of the birth of the Unconquered Sun): late Roman Empire - 25 December
  • Lupercalia, the Roman end-of-winter festival - 15 February

Slavic

Secular

  • Halloween: (31 October)
  • Thanksgiving (United States): The celebration of the early colonization of the United States and the camaraderie of the settlers and the Native Americans. Occurs on the fourth Thursday in November.
  • Zamenhof Day: (15 December) - Birthday of Ludwig Zamenhof, inventor of Esperanto; holiday reunion for Esperantists
  • Winter Solstice, Yule: (21 December or 22 December) (Late June weekend in Australia) - Celebration of the Winter Solstice.
  • Festivus: (23 December) - Holiday celebrating the season without the pressures or commercialism of the other holidays. At first a family holiday, later publicized on the Seinfeld television show, now celebrated independently.
  • HumanLight: (23 December) - Humanist holiday originated by the New Jersey Humanist Network
  • Boxing Day: (26 December) - Gift-giving day after Christmas.
  • Kwanzaa: (26 December - 1 January) - Pan-African festival
  • Yulefest, Midwinter Christmas (around late June or July) - Australian New Zealand winter 'Christmas/Yuletide'
  • New Year's Eve: (31 December) - Last day of the Gregorian year
  • Hogmanay: (Night of 31 December - Before dawn of 1 January) - Scottish New Year's Eve Celebration
  • New Year's Day: (1 January) - First day of the Gregorian year
  • Martin Luther King Day (15 January) - Birthday of American civil rights movement leader, a federal holiday on or near the date.
  • Hedgehog Day: 2 February - supposed archaic European version of Groundhog Day, dating back to Roman times.

Non-historical winter holidays

  • Chrismahanukwanzadan: no it isn't duke day is. the modern-day merging of the holidays of Christianity's Christmas, Judaism's Hanukkah, African-American holiday of Kwanzaa, and Islamic Ramadan.
  • Holiday: Around the time of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, Pastafarians celebrate a vaguely-defined holiday named "Holiday", which doesn't take place on "a specific date so much as it is the Holiday season, itself". Because Pastafarians "reject dogma and formalism", there are no specific requirements for the holiday.
  • Winter-een-mas: The annual week long celebration of video games and the people that play them.[2] Winter-een-mas is a holiday that takes place every year from January 25 to 31,[3] but is also commonly celebrated for a month. The entire month of January constitutes the Winter-een-mas season, very similar to the "christmas season", where people begin to gear up for the holiday, and get into the spirit of things.[citation needed] The holiday was started by the fictional character Ethan in webcomic Ctrl+Alt+Del[3] by Tim Buckley. Its stated goal is to "celebrate the joy of video gaming".[citation needed] Many gaming stores, such as EB Games, celebrate the holiday.[3]
  • Wintersday: The annual winter holiday in the MMORPG Guild Wars. This holiday is based on Christmas and Yule and one can obtain festival related drops from monsters and collect gifts in select cities. Special quests are available and at the end players may get Wintersday related headgear.
  • Winterval Not as commonly cited "a non-religious alternative name for Christmas and Hanukkah, invented by Birmingham City Council, England, to avoid offence, but quickly abandoned by them", rather a marketing ploy to get people into the newly rebuilt City Centre. It was not a politically correct attempt at rebranding Christmas as inclusive to all religions. After two years the tag 'Winterval' was abandoned.
  • Starlight Celebration: The annual winter holiday based on Christmas/Yule/winter solstice in the MMORPG Final Fantasy XI (aka FFXI). Players can collect various holiday equipment, Mog house furnishings, fireworks, and food.
  • Shoe Giving: - quirky holiday famously invented on the show Hyperdrive (TV series)
  • Freezingman: - 11 January - A Burning Man inspired event held in Colorado as a Winter Arts and Music Festival.[4]
  • Feast of Winter Veil: December 15 to January 2 - holiday in the MMORPG World of Warcraft. This holiday is based on Christmas. Cities are decorated with Christmas lights and a tree with presents. Also special quests, items and snowballs are available. It features 'Greatfather Winter' which is modeled after [Santa Claus]. [1] [2]
  • Day of the Ninja: December 5 - A counterpoint to International Talk Like a Pirate Day founded by the creators of Ninja Burger.
  • Kwansolhaneidmas: December 19 - an interdenominational holiday celebrated by people on Facebook.
  • Feast of Frith, in the TV series Watership Down.
  • Holiday Number 11, in the TV series Quark.
  • Xmas, a twisted version of Christmas featuring a murderous Robot Santa in the TV series Futurama.
  • Refrigerator Day, in the TV series Dinosaurs.
  • Life Day, featured in The Star Wars Holiday Special.
  • 'Slapsgiving, a parody of thanksgiving made famous in the TV show How I met your mother.
  • Agnostica: Agnostic winter festival created by Daren "Gav" Bleuel in the webcomic Nukees and celebrated by many of its fans.
  • Alvistide: in the TV series Sealab 2021.
  • Frostval: Adventure Quest, Dragonfable, AQworlds etc.
  • Chalica: celebrated for a week in December by some Unitarian Universalists to honor the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism.
  • Festivus: a holiday invented by George's father in the TV series Seinfeld.
  • Hogswatch: a holiday celebrated on the fictional world of Discworld. It is very similar to the Christian celebration of Christmas.
  • St. Yorick's Day: Holiday celebration/even celebrated by the members of Zantarni.
  • Xistlessnessmas: "anti-holiday" of the Church of the SubGenius parody religion usually held around the time of Christmas, but it can be any time of the year; sometimes its name is shortened to "Xmas". Instead of a celebration, it is a period of mourning the fact that "X-Day" has not yet occurred and the "X-ists" have not yet arrived for the "Rupture" to the "Pleasure Saucers" which will take all dues-paying "SubGenii" to Planet X according to SubGenius mythology. Xistlessnessmas is the exact opposite of the SubGenius holiday "X-Day".
  • Thanksgivoween. September 1 to January 1.
  • Decemberween: a parody of Christmas that features gift-giving, carol-singing and decorated trees. The fact that it takes place on December 25, the same day as Christmas, has been presented as just a coincidence, and it has been stated that Decemberween traditionally takes place "55 days after Halloween". Homestar Runner

See also

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References


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