10 December Events You Don’t Want to Miss Around the World

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Bucket List Worthy  

Photo credit: Pete
Photo credit: Pete

Despite the snow and disgruntling temperatures, December has earned its place among the most exciting months of the year. And whether you’re participating in “Chasing the Claus” in Switzerland or bringing in the New Year until sunrise in Brazil, you’re guaranteed to forget about the long winter ahead when you’re enjoying these remarkable December traditions around the world.

#1. Klausjagen — Küssnacht, Switzerland

Photo credit: Adnan Yahya
Photo credit: Adnan Yahya

If you just can’t seem to get in the holiday spirit, attending Klasjagen or “Chasing the Claus” on the coast of beautiful Lake Lucerne may be your favourite event of the year. In this odd but fun parade held on the eve of St. Nicholas Day, the locals of Kussnacht take to the streets to ring cow bells and shoe St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) away. Purchase a cowbell or bring your own to take part in the Scrooge-like fun.

Dates: December 5, 2014

#2. King’s Birthday — Bangkok, Thailand

Photo credit: Gordon Anderson
Photo credit: Gordon Anderson

The King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, is highly revered among the Thai people and around the world. His birthday is magnificently celebrated throughout Bangkok and all of Thailand. If you’ll be in the city for the holiday, be sure to admire the celebrations, lights and fireworks displays near the Grand Palace.

Dates: December 5, 2014

#3. Quema del Diablo — Guatemala City, Guatemala

Photo credit: Surizar
Photo credit: Surizar

Also known as the Burning of the Devil, the Quema del Diablo festivities are much less grim than the name suggests. Guatemalan tradition holds that the devil can be found in dirty areas of the home and garbage piles. Each year, on Dec. 7, houses are cleaned and trash is piled onto the streets (often with a devil-like figure on top) to be burned around 6 p.m. Once the fires have burned, bands have played and fireworks have been enjoyed, the Christmas season is said to be devil-free.

Dates: December 7, 2014

#4. Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe — Mexico City, Mexico

Photo credit: mystuart
Photo credit: mystuart

Mexico comes more alive than ever during the month of December, and the Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, or Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, celebration is one of the month’s greatest festivities. You don’t have to be in Mexico City to see parades and parties honoring Mexico’s patron saint, and although the national holiday takes place on December 12, pilgrimages to Mexico City’s Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe and festivities around the country start a week beforehand.

Dates: December 12, 2014

#5. Boston Tea Party Reenactment — Boston, United States

Photo credit: Lee Wright
Photo credit: Lee Wright

Not every December event in the United States has to do with shopping or Santa Claus, and unbelievably, the Boston Tea Party Reenactment has nothing to do with the holiday season at all. Step back in time to Dec. 16, 1773, to relive one of America’s most important and iconic public protests — the Boston Tea Party. Take part in debating the tea tax at Boston’s Old South Meeting House, then head down to Boston Harbor to witness the tea being destroyed.

Dates: December 16, 2014

#6. Mevlana Festival — Konya, Turkey

Photo credit: Gwenael Piaser
Photo credit: Gwenael Piaser

Better known as the Whirling Dervishes Festival, the Mevlana Festival in Turkey is held in honor of Mevlana (commonly known as Rumi), a poet, philosopher and religious writer highly revered in the Islamic world. Mevlana believed that humans could connect with god through dance, and the Whirling Dervishes Festival serves as a ceremony to commemorate his death on Dec. 17, 1273. Nearly one million spectators flock to Konya every year to watch the Whirling Dervishes perform their ceremonious dances and take part in the week-long festival.

Dates: December 10-17, 2014

#7. Chaumos — Kalasha Valleys, Pakistan

Photo credit: manalahmadkhan
Photo credit: manalahmadkhan

The indigenous Kalasha people of Birir, Bumboret and Rumbur have far different traditions than the area’s surrounding Muslim populations. The Chaumos festival takes place for two weeks around the winter solstice to celebrate the completion of harvesting and storing crops for the upcoming winter. Baking, singing, dancing and feasting are a few of the festivities you’ll find at the event, which is the largest celebration of the year for the Kalasha people.

Dates: December 7-22, 2014

#8. International Festival of the Sahara — Douz, Tunisia

Photo credit: McKay Savage
Photo credit: McKay Savage

Want to forget about the hustle and bustle of the holidays entirely? A trip to the desert in Douz, Tunisia will probably do the trick. The Festival of the Sahara serves as a celebration of the culture of Saharan nomads complete with camel races, military displays, dances, poetry, local foods and even public weddings.

Dates: December 23-27, 2014

#9. Dong Zhi Festival — Hong Kong, China

Photo credit: Alpha
Photo credit: Alpha

The Dong Zhi Festival in Hong Kong is one of the biggest and most important festivals of the winter solstice in China and other parts of East Asia. The festival serves as a time for families to gather, feast (especially on tangyuan glutinous rice balls) and give thanks as the onset of winter begins. If you’re given the opportunity to attend Dong Zhi festivities in China, you may notice it feels a lot like a North American Thanksgiving.

Dates: December 21, 2014

#10. Reveillon — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Photo credit: Fotos GOVBA
Photo credit: Fotos GOVBA

New Year’s Eve celebrations are some of the most extravagant festivities of the year, and Reveillon in Rio de Janeiro might take the cake as one of the rowdiest. Rio’s famous Copacabana beach packs in about 2 million people for a celebration featuring a number of the top Brazilian and international bands, a massive fireworks display and partying that continues until sunrise the next day.

Dates: December 31, 2014

About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a travel writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C, Mexico and around the world. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and surfing new waves.

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