Holiday Traditions Around the World

“Happy Holidays!” (English), “Felices Fiestas!” (Spanish), “Boas Festas!” (Portuguese). Wherever you might be or wherever you might be traveling to, find out how holidays are celebrated around the globe. From ringing in the New Year in Thailand to celebrating Christmas in France, it’s time to get jolly (and worldly) for this holiday season.

New Year’s in Thailand

There are many fun and delightful ways that Thailand rings in the New Year. Head to Bangkok for the huge family-friendly festival at the Central World Street Party, held at one of Southeast Asia’s biggest shopping malls. Enjoy shows, music, festive lights, and a magnificent fireworks show at midnight. Or head to Chiang Mai for Lanterns and Lights for New Year’s. It’s not as big as the Central World Street Party, but visitors say it’s more beautiful. Light a paper lantern and release it at midnight with thousands of other attendees. The event also has live music, food and a fantastic fireworks show.

Hanukkah in Israel

For eight days Jewish people all over the world celebrate Hanukkah by lighting a special candle holder called a menorah. They do this to remember an ancient miracle when one day’s worth of oil burned for eight days in their temple. Each night a candle is lit and often gifts are given and traditional foods like special potato pancakes called latkas are served. In Israel there are a series of incredible events that occur during the eight-day holiday like the Hanukkah lights in Jerusalem where visitors walk the streets to view the hanukkiot flickering in window sills. Or get a true feel for Hanukkah by going back in time and visiting the Hasomonean Village in Shilat to hear the story of the Maccabees, harvest olives, and make wax candles.

Christmas in France

In France Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Joyeux Noel’ and the holiday is called Noel. Although there are many similarities to Christmas in the United States there are some fun key differences. Instead of Santa they have a figure called Pere Noel (Father Christmas) that makes his way to homes with gifts, and most homes have nativity scenes, which is a focal point of decoration much like Christmas trees in the U.S. Yule logs made out of cherry wood are brought home and often sprinkled with red wine to make it smell nice while burning.

Holiday Traditions

Kwanzaa in the United States

Celebrated from December 26 to January 1, Kwanzaa (which means ‘First Fruits’) is based on an ancient harvest festival that celebrates family life and unity. African Americans dress in special clothes, decorate their homes, and light a candleholder called a kinara. The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green to represent the unity of people that are from African descent worldwide. Black is for the people, red is for the noble blood that unites every one of African ancestry, and green is for the rich land of Africa.

Omisoka in Japan

Omisoka is the Japanese New Year celebrated on December 31, and the second most important holiday of the year. During the day families clean their homes and remove last year’s clutter, purifying their homes for the New Year. This is called ‘osoji.’ Japanese families then gather for a giant feast with traditional food at 11:00 p.m. Often people go out to celebrate too, but some consider it more of a spiritual event and at midnight they visit a shrine or temple. Temples ring a large cast iron bell at midnight to signify the 108 earthly wants that created human suffering.


Ready to get away and experience holidays around the world? Travel to the pristine paradise in Thailand at the Medee Resort, or venture to other destinations around the globe for festive celebrations and enriching cultural adventures. Book online or call a Vacation Specialist at (877) 477-7368.


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