Cultural Activities: Winter Holidays

In the United States, there are several holidays which occur in the beginning of winter which have become part of the cultural mindset of the season. While participation is never mandatory, Permanent Residents of the United States often find they have an easier time assimilating into society if they participate in cultural activities.

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s is a strictly secular holiday and although the day-off often given for this holiday is January 1st, it is the night before where all of the celebrations occur.

Some traditions associated with New Year’s Eve in the United States:

  • Kissing a loved one at Midnight.
  • Drinking Champagne or other sparkling wine.
  • Counting down the seconds to midnight in your time-zone.
  • Making New Year’s resolutions. These are goals that people set for the entire new year, however, they are often abandoned after a few months.


Chanukah (many different spelling variations) is a strictly religious holiday and has a great deal of meaning for Jewish peoples of the world. While it is not the most important holiday in the Jewish calendar, it is commonly celebrated in the United States.

Filled with symbolism and legends and wonderful stories, this period of eight days often shifts and occurs on different days in the month of December.


Christmas is a Christian religious holiday, but it has also been appropriated, in a sense, by American culture. Even people who are not particularly religious celebrate Christmas as a time of universal understanding and good will.

Gifts are often exchanged on this holiday. It occurs on December 25th, with Christmas Eve occurring the day before. Christmas is a traditional time of year for family members to gather and share the holiday together.

Other holidays

There are a number of other holidays that occur during this time of year. Does your culture have a holiday in December that we haven’t mentioned? Write about it in the comments!