As the end of the year approaches, cities around the world are celebrating with everything from Santa-themed marathons to fires in the street. Check out our picks for December’s best festivals below.
Burning of the Devil, Guatemala, Dec. 7
While Americans typically think of spring as the season to clean, Guatemalans take to de-cluttering their homes in December during a festival known as the Burning of the Devil. Locals believe the devil himself hides in the clutter and trash in their homes, so the annual festival is a chance to clear their homes of junk and burn it in the streets with a devil effigy. This cleanses the homes just in time for Christmas and the new year.
Mevlana Festival, Turkey, Dec. 10-17
The 13th-century poetry and philosophies of Mevlana are some of the most highly regarded by followers of Islam. Mevlana believed that whirling and chanting could bring a unity with God, and this belief is still practiced by devotees (Mevlevi) today. The Mevlana Festival in December celebrates Mevlana with days of trance-like spinning by the whirling dervishes, ending with a powerful dance on December 17, the anniversary of Mevlana’s death.
Christmas Markets, Germany
The grand Christmas markets that spring up around Germany in December technically aren’t festivals, but they’re certainly an annual tradition that’s not to be missed. These whimsical villages pop up throughout the country until Dec. 24, spreading merriment and Christmas cheer as shoppers search for the perfect gifts to place under the tree.
Santa Run, Worldwide
With all the cookies and milk Santa feasts on come Christmas Eve, it only makes sense that he burn off those extra calories with a bit of cardio. And every December, countless Santas take to streets around the world for what’s known as the Santa Run, a race where the only thing you need to qualify is a decent Santa costume. Races are held around the world.
New Year’s Eve in New York City, Dec. 31
As one of the biggest and most iconic New Year’s celebrations in the world, the New Year’s Eve festivities in the Big Apple are unparalleled. The streets of New York City erupt with masses donning top hats and wacky year-themed glasses, all waiting for that iconic ball to drop as it rings in the New Year. You’ll have to stake out a spot early, but it’s well worth experiencing one of the world’s top New Year’s Eve celebrations.
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