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These 8 International Celebrations Promise One-of-a-Kind Experiences

The United States has some great holidays, many of which originated overseas. But some celebrations in other countries are ultra-unique, making them worth traveling abroad to experience. Here’s a selection of eight holidays to get you started.

1: Boxing Day

Gift giving.
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Boxing Day is a public holiday celebrated on December 26th in the UK and former UK territories. Its initial purpose was to offer locals the chance to donate gifts to the needy. While initially intended for this reason, it has also become known for discounted shopping and watching sports on television.

2: Puck Fair

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Celebrated in Ireland, the Puck Fair holiday crowns a goat as royalty. This tradition may have originated from a goat that exhibited unusual behavior, alerting the town of Killorglin about Oliver Cromwell’s army. The festivities commence with the crowning of a “King of Puck,” a wild goat, by a local girl known as the “Queen of Puck.” The goat is honored for three days during the festival, then released.

3: Abare Festival

Japanese woman in a traditional dress.
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Sometimes referred to as the Fire and Violence Festival, the Abare festival occurs in Japan every July. The holiday commemorates the successful eradication of a contagious disease from the 1600s. Observers dance and play instruments like drums, gongs, and flutes before the bonfire’s commencement. 

4: Ognissanti

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Ognissanti takes place in Italy, which is akin to Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Schools, stores, and government offices close for the day, giving Italians time to visit cemeteries and adorn the tombstones of loved ones with beautiful flowers and candles. They also cook a meal and set up a plate for those who have passed on. Additionally, families visit each other with gifts.

5: Bloomsday

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Bloomsday is a celebration in Ireland that honors the Irish writer James Joyce. In June, locals dress up in costumes and perform dramatizations of his work in the James Joyce Centre. Observers also go to pubs, eat traditional Irish meals, and visit the places described in Joyce’s books. 

6: Día de los Muertos

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A celebration of life in Mexico, Día de los Muertos or “Day of the Dead” redefines the meaning of death. The holiday takes place on November 1st and honors the lives of family members that have passed away. Rather than grieving, those who observe Day of the Dead dress in bright colors and set up food and other offerings beneath photos of their loved ones.

7: St. Lucia Day

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St. Lucia Day is a holiday celebrated in several European countries, specifically Sweden and Norway. The purpose? To honor St. Lucia, which involves women and girls dressing in white and serving coffee and baked goods to their family members. While it sounds old-fashioned, the holiday is said to originate from St. Lucia’s generous act of bringing food to Christians who were hiding in catacombs.

8: Hungry Ghost Festival

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In East Asia, Taoists and Buddhist monks observe the Hungry Ghost Festival. During this event, special ceremonies such as burning incense occur. It’s believed that on this day, the dead enter the human realm and roam around the living in search of entertainment and food. 

Holidays in the United States

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There are currently 12 recognized federal holidays in the US, with 11 promised holidays each year. The 12th holiday, Inauguration Day, only occurs every four years.

Big Numbers

Lots of numbers.
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Counting the exact number of holidays around the world is nearly impossible, given that holidays can range from being local to nationwide. However, it’s clear that more than 100 significant holidays are observed globally, ranging from religious and cultural celebrations to events promoting awareness.

Most Observed

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A poll by YouGov found that Christmas is Americans’ most favorite holiday.

Final Place

Girl rejecting a kiss.
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According to YouGov, Valentine’s Day is the US’ least favorite holiday, with 58% of Americans saying they don’t believe it’s a special occasion. 

9 Countries Where Tipping Is Rude or Uncommon

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Since when did tipping your local coffee shop barista 20% become the norm? If you’re tired of American tipping practices, you just might want to visit (and perhaps move to) one of these countries.

9 Countries Where Tipping Is Rude or Uncommon

19 Misconceptions Non-Americans Have About the US

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To some foreigners, Americans are morbidly obese individuals at a high risk of being involved in a firearm incident. Americans know this isn’t (always) the case, but it doesn’t make it any less irritating to hear stereotypes about us that aren’t usually true.

19 Misconceptions Non-Americans Have About the U.S.

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