The winter season is full of celebrations that reflect the vivid culture of societies around the world. Whether it be a religious holiday or the coming of a new year, cultures around the world celebrate these holidays with their own twist on the traditions.
The most-celebrated holiday worldwide is Christmas. Although Christmas is generally considered a religious holiday for Christians, the event is celebrated in a multitude of ways, and some countries choose to celebrate for more than one day.
In the United States, the Christmas celebration typically lasts one day that is filled with family visits and a large meal, similar to Thanksgiving. On the island of Tonga, many inhabitants celebrate Christmas as well, but the feast of food is what really counts as a celebration.
Leka Heimuli, who is from Tonga and works in the Multicultural Affairs Office at South City Campus, says the celebration usually involves a lot of different food with a lot of people from their community. With a significant population of Pacific Islanders in Utah, these types of gatherings commonly occur locally.
Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday that is rich in history, lasts eight days and is celebrated worldwide. This year, Hanukkah began the evening of Dec. 2 and ended Monday night.
Because of the size of the Jewish population, Hanukkah is celebrated by far fewer Americans when compared to Christmas. The most recognizable symbol of this holiday is the menorah, which holds the eight candles that symbolize the eight days of celebration.
Kwanzaa is considered an African-American holiday that celebrates African culture and unity. This holiday emphasizes the history and struggles of African communities, especially in the Americas.
According to CBS San Francisco, Kwanzaa is celebrated by African cultures around the world, even though its deepest roots lie with African-Americans.
Kwanzaa begins Dec. 26 and ends Jan. 1 of the following year.
Salt Lake Community College student and Iraqi native Ali Aedan says many people in Iraq celebrate Christmas, but also put special importance on the coming of the new year.
Much like the celebration of the Chinese New Year, many cultures give great importance to the new year.
Some cultures celebrate the winter solstice, such as Pagans, who celebrate Yule. Yule lasts from the solstice Dec. 21 to the first day of the new year.