We are approaching Christmas very fast but unfortunately this beautiful tradition has become more of a celebration of capitalism than actual Christianity. However, there are places and festivals around the world that gets to the inner core of the beautiful religion of Christianity and I thought I would share some of my favorite must experience Christian festivals around the world:
- Christmas tree lighting
Place to be: Bethlehem, Palestine
Time to be next year: December 24, 2019
What is a better place to witness the celebration of the birthday of Jesus rather than in his very own birth city? The lightning of the Christmas tree is a huge event where the Christian Palestinians count down in the Arabic language for midnight to light up the tree.
- Semana Santa
Place to be: Granada, Spain
Time to be next year: April 14, 2019 (easter week)
I have witnessed this festival myself. Large parades with people dressed like something coming from the Ku Klux Klan or the inquisition. However, this ceremony is held to repent for the sins you have forsaken the last year and to acknowledge the sacrifice of Jesus. Many people would exhaust themselves and walk it every day bare footed. The festival is best celebrated in Granada, but most Spanish and specially Andalucian cities will have it as well.
Place to be: San Fernando, Philippines
Time to be next year: April 19, 2019 (easter)
On the same track as Semana Santa people come here to recall the passion of the christ and experience a similar hardship. Men and women come here voluntarily to be crucified for real. It’s so admirable how much love and passion they have to actually letting nails go through their palms and hang there for hours.
- Mescal Festival
Place to be: Adis Ababa, Ethiopia
Time to be next year: September 27, 2019
This is a very unique celebration of the supposed finding of the “true cross”. It is said to be given to an emperor of Ethiopia and thus this is a huge celebration there.
- Day of the Dead
Place to be: Janitzio Island, Mexico
Time to be next year: November 2, 2019
This is actually a very interesting festival mixing Christianity with native Indian religion. It is celebrated in most places in Mexico but should be most original on the above mentioned island.
- Santa Claus Village
Place to be: Rovaniemi, Finland
Time to be next year: December, 2019
This is not exactly a festival but every year this park opens for visitors and I can imagine it really will feel like Santa Claus’s toolshop up there in the cold north.
- White smoke
Place to be: The Vatican City
Time to be: Unknown
This even does not need an introduction. We all know how a pope is chosen and watching white smoke from the Sistine Chapel is just historical!
- Race of the Candles
Place to be: Gubbio, Italy
Time to be next year: May 15, 2019
I do not know much about this festival other than celebrating some saints, but it does sound fun!
- Salto del Colacho
Place to be: Burgos, Spain
Time to be next year: June 23, 2019
Another south European festival. It is hard to understand where all those ideas come from but this one is probably about cleansing babies of sins and ensure them protection. Someone will play the devil and jump over new born babies. This might even be a dying tradition due to criticism from the Vatican saying only baptism can cleanse the sins.
- Mardi Gras
Place to be: Binche, Belgium
Time to be next year: March 3, 2019
Before the fasting period for the Christians starts, the Belgian Christians go out celebrating the last day with an enormous feast and a very fun parade in the city of Binche.
In addition, there are many many other festivals to be mentioned. However, I tried not to include some of those ruined by capitalism already like Saint Patricks day. However, I have not been to all of the above yet, so I am yet to be surprised 🙂
Also remember, no matter what religion you have or none at all these traditions are fascinating to witness. The same goes for any other religion out there, and I might do a similar list for Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism very soon. Would it interest you?