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10 Holiday Celebrations From Around the World to Experience

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One of the most fun parts of traveling, is experiencing other cultures. A huge part of cultures are the holidays and festivals that are celebrated throughout the year! That's why we've pulled together some of our favorite festivities around the globe to share with you. Here are 10 holiday celebrations from around the world to add to your bucket list.

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1. Dia de Los Muertos

The Day of the Dead is one of the most significant celebrations in Mexico, and definitely one of our favorite holiday celebrations from around the world

Dia de Los Muertos falls on the 1st of November, right after Halloween on October 31st. The holiday is a celebration of the dead where you will find families visiting the elaborately lit cemeteries.

This isn't a sad holiday though! This day is to celebrate the lives that have passed. There are parades, special food, and plenty of festivities. One of our favorite parts was dressing up like the traditional 'Catrinas and Catrins', with elegant clothing, and skeleton like makeup.

Dia de los Muertos, experiences in Mexicoholiday celebrations from around the world

2. Mardi Gras

This is one of the most wild of the holiday celebrations from around the world out there. Mardi Gras is widely celebrated through the US, but the number one celebration is in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Mardi Gras actually translates to "Fat Tuesday", which is the last day of the festival. The significance is because it had been thought of as the last day to be able to "eat fatty foods", since it falls right before Ash Wednesday and the start of lent.

The traditions consist of parades of elaborate decorations and costumes, everything being in the colors of purple, green, and gold. The two main symbols of the holiday are the decorative masks, and the strings of beads that are thrown to women for flashing the public.

When is Fat Tuesday?

Fat Tuesday varies each year, as it is dependent on when Easter is. Traditionally, it starts on January 6th, and leads up until whenever the date of Fat Tuesday falls on, typically the end of February or Early March. However, the largest parties are held for the two weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday. the final weekend being the biggest.

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How to Prepare

Grab any of your gold, green, or purple clothes, and make sure to dress light! Also don't wear anything that would break your heart if it got ruined. The streets get pretty messy, and are full of belligerently drunk people.

3. St. Patrick's Day

St Paddie's, also formerly known as St. Patrick's Day, is an Irish celebration that takes place each year on March 17th. 

The celebration is for St. Patrick, who is the patron saint of Ireland and is its national apostle. Born in Roman Britain, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the early  age of 16. He then later escaped, but returned to Ireland and was known for bringing Christianity to its people.

Today the holiday is celebrated by the streets filled with people in green décor, parades, and lots of drinking (especially beer!). 

St. Paddies, holiday celebrations from around the world

Where is the Best Place to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

Ireland is of course the best place to come for this holiday. I went to Dublin one year and the experience was one of the most fun holidays around the world that I have ever experienced.

Rivaling Ireland, the US also has very large celebrations for St. Paddies. The "Irish Americans" and "non-Irish Americans" alike celebrate the holiday, more as an excuse to dress in green and party all day and night. 

Throughout the US you can find almost anywhere celebrating this holiday, but New York is the one that is a little more similar to the Irish celebrations, because there is a large parade going through Manhattan each year, similar to the one in Dublin.

How to Prepare

The only thing you really need to do is dress in green from head to toe! Have fun with it by getting hair accessories, green hairspray, glitter, and stickers & makeup for your cheeks.

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4. Semana Santa

Easter is one of the most celebrated holidays around the world, and each country has their own way of celebrating. In Spain and Latin American countries, they don't celebrate the day of Easter, as much as they celebrate steadily throughout the whole week.

Head over to Spain and they really take Semana Santa seriously. Most businesses are off of work (kind of like a spring break for all ages), and there are large parades.

Don't be alarmed though. The typical dresses are large hood capes. They come in groups of all different colors, and the white one looks creepily like the KKK. Of course this is not what the intent is, so don't worry!

Semana Santa in Sevilla, festivals around the world

Where is the Best Place to Celebrate Semana Santa?

The south of Spain is where the largest celebrations and parades are held. The most famous Semana Santa celebration is held in Sevilla, and people travel from all over the country to experience the festivities.

When Exactly is Semana Santa?

Because the date of Easter changes every year, Semana Santa of course also changes. The week is the one that leads up to Easter, and actually usually starts on the weekend, making Semana Santa about 9-10 days.

5.  Chinese New Year

This is definitely one of the biggest holiday celebrations from around the world to add to the bucket list! Chinese New Year is hands down the largest celebration in China, and there are so many interesting things that are involved in the New Year.

When is Chinese New Year?

Unlike the traditional calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date every year. The date depends on the lunar calendar, and can be anywhere from Mid January to the end of February.

This holiday is celebrated with parades, fireworks, special dinners, gift giving. The most traditional gift is a red envelope that contains money. Depending on the relationship can depend on how much people put in the envelopes to share with loved ones.

Chinese New Year is definitely one to add to the bucket list, and varies slightly from province to province. But what you can expect, is to see a lot of decorations, cities covered in red, and lots of food!

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6. King's Day

King's day is when the Dutch celebrate their king's birthday. The holiday is celebrated by many different parties, in clubs and on boats. People dress from head to toe in orange, and there are flea markets on the streets, as well as a lot of outdoor bars and dining.

Kings Day, festivals around the world

When is King's Day?

King's day is on April 27th. This is great because the weather starts to warm up a bit, and it is very easy to celebrate outdoors.

How to Prepare

Being that the holiday is in spring, it is good to have layers. Amsterdam is the largest center for celebrations, so make plans in advance to visit here, and get tickets to special events. 

Bring lots of orange! Just like St. Patrick's Day in Ireland, people don't just put on a colored dress, but they get very decorative. Head to a party store and grab a boa, beads, tutu, hairspray, or orange stickers or makeup to spice up your King's day outfit.

7. Diwali

Diwali is the Festival of Lights and is celebrated to honor the seventh avatar, Rama-chandra. It is a major Hindu religious festival that lasts for five days during the lunar months of Ashvina and Karttika.

Diwali is one of the biggest holidays in India, and can also be found being celebrated by millions of others in various countries throughout the world. Some other popular places to celebrate include Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan. Malaysia, Myanmar, and Fiji.

The holiday starts with people cleaning their houses and decorating with gold, flowers, and lanterns. There is are then festivities with food, gift giving, and tons of candles and lanterns lighting up the all of the establishments. Diwali is a magical holiday, and definitely one to add to your bucket list!

Diwali, holidays this year

When is Diwali?

The date varies each year for Diwali, as it is dependent on the cycle of the moon. It's observed on the 15h day of Kartik, the holiest month in the Hindu lunar calendar. The date usually falls between October and November, and is always five days long.

8. Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a funny holiday, because it a Mexican holiday, but barely celebrated in Mexico itself!

The holiday is on the 5th of May, and commemorates the date of the Mexican army's victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. You may find some people in Puebla celebrating, but not much.

However, despite the holiday not being popular in Mexico, for some odd reason it has become a pretty big thing in the US.

Cinco de Mayo Celebrations in the US

As a melting pot of a country, the US had adopted many holiday celebrations from around the world, and made their own version. It may seem weird, but any excuse for a party and food right?

All over the country you will find Mexican Restaurants hosting parties or giving Cinco de Mayo specials. The holiday has become essentially a day to drink tequila and eat tacos.

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9. Midsummer

Midsummer is celebrating exactly what is sounds like- the middle of summer. This holiday is popular amongst Northern European countries, as this is the day with the most sunlight (which in these countries is almost 24 hours!).

Summer solstice takes place in the middle to the end of June, and is celebrated by putting up a large maypole for people to sing and dance around.

In Sweden, Midsummer is actually the most important day of the year! Girls gather flowers and make wreaths to put on their heads and then around the maypole. There is a typical meal served with light summery cuisine, and some alcoholic beverages.

Midsummer, festivals around the world

How to Prepare

For girls, make sure you have a white or flowery dress. For men, a pair of nice pants and a light colored shirt, preferably blue or white. If you plan to experience on of the most authentic celebrations, head over to the countryside.

10. Thanksgiving

This is one of the biggest holidays in the US, and is revolved around being thankful, feasting, and football. Pretty awesome right?

The holiday originated to celebrate the first harvest, when the native Americans and the colonists came together sharing their wealth and knowledge, bringing all Americans together.

Each year families get together and prepare large dinners of traditional food. The main star of the meal is the large turkey, and some of the other dishes include stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie.

Other Traditions

When it comes to holiday celebrations from around the world, the US has a lot to offer. But the one's that are only celebrated nationally are what are the real must experiences.

Not only is the day of Thanksgiving revolved around eating all day, but the most important part of the activities leading up the the holiday is expressing gratitude and thinking about your blessings.

Football also plays a large part in Thanksgiving, as the sport has a big game played on Thanksgiving Day (which lasts a few hours). Finally, let's not forget the parade. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade is held each year in Manhattan, and features large floats, marching bands, and dancers through the streets.

Thanksgiving parade, holidays this year

When is Thanksgiving Celebrated?

Thanksgiving falls on the third Thursday of the month each November. Because of this, Friday usually ends of being somewhat of a holiday as well.

Thanksgiving is now not only celebrated by families, but by friends as well. You will find many people having "friendsgiving" if they are away from their families, or even having one a week or two before the traditional Thanksgiving.

How to Prepare

The only thing you really need to prepare for is some comfortable clothes and a very big appetite.

If you are visiting as a tourist there are plenty of restaurants that will serve Thanksgiving style dinner. If you are visiting New York and want to see the parade, get there EARY! (like hours before). Dress very warm as the temperatures in NYC will have most likely dropped to winter temperatures at this point. 

Looking To Travel Somewhere?

Off The Beaten Trips is our travel agency.

But this isn't anything like you've ever experienced before. You'll have an epic trip without having to break the piggy bank.

Unique locations. Epic adventures. Lifetime memories.

Spending the holidays in a foreign country is one of the most exciting things when experiencing a new culture. Make sure to add some of these holiday celebrations from around the world to your bucket list and immerse yourself in new experiences!

Need help planning your trip? Well, Scratch Your Mapa offers travel planning services. Now you can explore more, and spend less along the way. 

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