I have grown up celebrating Halloween on October 31st, my birthday on December 4th, Christmas on December 25th, New Years Eve on December 31st, and the list goes on. Every year, I celebrate the exact same holidays on the exact same days by doing the same exact activities. I have always been so wrapped up in my bubble of Colorado that I never thought about what holidays may be like outside of it.
Over this past year, my interest in different countries, cultures, and people has grown. Being the celebratory, outgoing person that I am, another one of my thoughts that accompanies this newly found interest is how these cultures celebrate their holidays. Through traveling, talking with peers, and a little research, I am starting to better understand the world around me (and who knows how to throw the best holiday parties).
I have had the pleasure to spend time and talk with two lovely peers of mine. The first, is Shauna Reed, a student at the University of Nebraska. The second, is Georgia Hardy, an Australian native and graduate from the University of Canberra. Shauna was born in Japan and lived there until she was 11-years-old. She currently attends the University of Nebraska but her parents, and much of her family, still lives in Japan where she visits frequently. I asked her what her favorite holiday is in Japan and why she thinks the Japanese celebrate it best. Her response was… New Years Eve! She said, “It’s comparatively celebrated like Christmas here in the States but there is a lot more tradition that comes with it, especially with food. It’s celebrated mainly with family, and the tradition is to go to a temple and make wishes and get your fortune for the new year. Also, if you are under 20-years-old, you get money from every single one of your family members so it’s good for the bank.” She giggled when telling me about this holiday and why it is her favorite, but my favorite part of her story was the size of her smile, and the joy she had when talking about it. It really made me believe that this is the best holiday in the whole world. Following this chat, I reached out to Georgia and asked her the same question. She answered with… Christmas! Georgia said, “In Australia, the weather is insanely hot around Christmas time. The weather does not ruin our Christmas spirit though, if anything we celebrate it better because of the warm weather. It is a tradition of my family and I’s to head to the beach, strike a barbecue, and attend a candlelight and caroling festival by night.”
After talking with them, all I want to do is travel to Australia for Christmas and to Japan for New Years Eve!
While I stand by and whole-heartedly believe Georgia when she says that no one celebrates Christmas better than the Australians do, I found an article written by an Australian that says otherwise. Apparently… Bethlehem, West Bank is the place to be on December 25th. This article was published on Traveller and is titled, “World’s Top 10 Best Places to Celebrate Christmas.” It says, “The energy on Manger Square and in the Old City on Christmas Eve could light a forest of Christmas trees.
The place to be as the clock strikes 12 is St Catherine’s Church, for the Midnight Mass service.” There you have it!
Christmas and New Years Eve are generally celebrated throughout the world and by many cultures, but many other holidays are too. Easter, Halloween, Hanukkah, Memorial Day, and so on. No matter where you are, who you are with, and what you are celebrating, holidays are days filled with joy, love, laughter, and unification.