Some of these traditions are closely related with ‘Christmas’. And why shouldn’t they be? Christmas is considered a mid-winder celebration, and there are many, many others! To some, it makes sense for traditions that fall on the same dates to have other similarities, to others, it may purely be a coincidence.
The Festivus Pole! This secular holiday, celebrated on the December 23, was designed to contrast Christmas. The tree is an aluminum pole and celebrants call it “a Festivus for the rest of us”! The holiday was created by the father of a screenwriter, for the sitcom Seinfeld, and gained notoriety on the show. To show their disdain for the pressure of the holiday season and its religious aspects, “Festivus miracles”, which are very average, explainable events, are exchanged.
Typically found in North American Jewish family households during Hanukkah, the Hanukkah bush resembles the Christmas tree in that it’s decorated in the same fashion and is often indistinguishable between the other, popular, green, holiday piece of flora. There are disputes as to whether the Hanukkah Bush truly does resemble the menorah (which is why it’s erected during Hanukkah), and whether it’s more a Christmas tree ‘in disguise’.
The hybrid of the Christmas tree and Hanukkah bush has been called the Chanukah bush by actress Gertrude Berg’s father.
On December 26, across Caribbean towns, musical masquerades take place in the streets. They also take place on New Year’s Day. Check out the excitement and color in the video below!
The Winter Solstice Festival or Dōngzhì Festival
This festival is celebrated by Chinese families to mark the Winter Solstice, on or around the December 21. Different families have different traditions, though in Southern China, many eat glutenous rice balls, which symbolizes ‘reunion’, which is what families who don’t often get together do! Lots and lots of food is involved, each with special, symbolical, meanings!
Celebrated the day after Christmas, the tradition involves ‘hunting’ a fake wren. The wren is attached at one end of a long pole, symbolizing the ‘hunted wren’. The pole bearer leads a procession of people through the towns, in celebration of the wren, dressed up in colorful outfits! Celtic music is played during the parade as Wren day originated and is most popular in Ireland.
Though equated with Christmas, as the expression “Yule-time” is used in Christmas songs and carols, the origin of Yuletide is Pagan and of Germanic origin. Nowadays, the popular usage of the term is to refer to Christmas. Traditions including the ‘Yule Log’ stems from the original tradition.