A holiday for every day of December, from the religious to the whimsical
On Dec. 25, 336, Christians celebrated Christmas for the first time. For hundreds of years prior, the church’s main holiday had been the Epiphany, which marked the day when the three kings, or wise men, visited the newborn baby Jesus. For the early Christian church, this visit and subsequent holiday symbolized that salvation was available to all of mankind, a notion that certainly called for a celebration. However, later church leaders decided that the birth of Jesus should be celebrated as well, and they chose Dec. 25, a Roman pagan holiday celebrating the birth of the unconquered sun, to do so.
Fast-forward thousands of years and the United States declared Christmas a federal holiday on June 26, 1870. Our Christmas celebrations today incorporate certain elements of the early Christian holiday, but modern Christmas has also become a time to show gratitude for the things and people we have in our lives, share time with loved ones, and exchange gifts with our nearest and dearest. According to the Pew Research Center, 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas today, but only 46% say that they celebrate it in a primarily religious way.
All of this to say, that things change. December is still the height of the holiday season in America, but Christmas isn’t the only holiday we’re celebrating. In fact, we celebrate at least 31 holidays in the month alone. Stacker used the National Today database to compile a list of unique holidays taking place every day this December. Using data from 2019, we’ve organized the holidays by date. From the wacky (International Ninja Day) to the religious (Chanukah) to the historical (National Pearl Harbor Day of Remembrance) to the cultural (Hogmanay), there’s something unique to be celebrated all month long.
Read on to see what each day in December will bring, and for suggestions of ways to celebrate.
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Dec. 1: National Christmas Lights Day
In 1880, Thomas Edison invented electric Christmas lights as a replacement for the lit candles families had been using to decorate their Christmas trees for years. Thanks to a general distrust of electricity, the invention didn’t catch on right away, and it wasn’t until General Electric began selling pre-assembled Christmas lights in 1903 that the public really bought into the idea. Now, on Dec. 1 of each year, we celebrate the electric lights that have become an integral part of the holiday season by stringing them up around our homes and apartments.
Dec. 2: National Mutt Day
Created in 2005 by celebrity pet and family expert and animal welfare advocate Colleen Paige, National Mutt Day is all about celebrating, embracing, and saving mixed-breed dogs. Occurring twice a year (again on July 31), the day is a chance to shower a little bit of extra love on the mutts who bring so much joy to our lives.
Dec. 3: National Disability Day
National Disability Day is a holiday designed to promote compassion and understanding for those who have physical and mental disabilities. Understanding the challenges that others face not only brings us together, but helps ensure that everyone has equal opportunities for work, play, health, and success. Celebrate by becoming a more vocal advocate for the disabled, by lending a helping hand and by making a commitment to show more compassion throughout the year.
Dec. 4: National Cookie Day
Born from the need to test an oven’s temperature before baking a cake, cookies have become one of America’s favorite desserts in their own right. On Dec. 4, celebrate the sweet treats by baking a dozen of your favorite variety. You won’t be alone—54% of Americans report favoring homemade cookies to the store-bought variety.
Dec. 5: International Ninja Day
In 2003, the burger chain Ninja Burger created International Ninja Day to celebrate the “ninja speed” their burgers were delivered with. In keeping with the real spirit of the holiday, you could order a burger from your favorite joint. Alternatively, celebrate the mercenaries from which the holiday derives its name by taking a martial arts class or watching your favorite Ninja flick.
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Dec. 6: National Miners Day
National Miners Day was declared an official holiday by Congress in 2009. The day celebrates the difficult and often dangerous work these professionals do—work that drives our entire economy. You can celebrate by watching a documentary about the various hazards of the profession like “The Miners’ Hymns” or “Harlan County, USA.”
Dec. 7: National Pearl Harbor Day of Remembrance
On Dec. 7, 1941, more than 2,400 peopled died when Japan attacked the Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Honolulu, Hawaii. The worst attack on American soil by a foreign country, Pearl Harbor drew the country into WWII. On this day, we remember those who lost their lives as well as the families and loved ones they left behind.
Dec. 8: National Brownie Day
Four days after stuffing your face with cookies to celebrate National Cookie Day, you can indulge in another sugar binge, this time in celebration of National Brownie Day. In 1893, Bertha Palmer instructed her staff at the Palmer House Hotel of Chicago to concoct a new recipe that could be served at the Columbian Exposition World’s Fair. The result was a gooey, chocolatey pastry that’s a favorite of sweet tooths all over the world.
Dec. 9: National Llama Day
Scientists have discovered evidence of llamas in South America as early as 10,000 B.C. The fuzzy, plant-eating farm animals have long been used as guard animals and working animals, and on Dec. 9 we celebrate their various contributions to our culture.
Dec. 10: National Lager Day
As the most popular beer on Earth, it’s only fitting lager should get its own special day (enjoyed responsibly, of course). Lager originated in 19th-century Bavaria, where brewers tried fermenting beers in cold cellars rather than the traditional warm storage used for ales.
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