Christmas is stress.

It’s panicking when you can’t find the perfect gift, letting crowds swallow and jostle you, feeling disjointed from the people around you and the supposed cheer. For an adult, it can be the loss of childhood wonder.

It’s easy to slip into a food coma and hide behind thick sweaters until warmer weather rolls around.

There is a sure-fire way to perk yourself up though: Throw yourself into the unknown.

If Christmas just isn’t doing it for you, look for joy, cheer and kinship in one of these holidays happening in the new year.

Note: The number of people that celebrate each of these holidays are estimates based off of population statistics.

Up Helly Aa Fire Festival, The Hinterlands

January 30
~22,000 celebrate

By Mike Pennington, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14426874
By Mike Pennington, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Why it’s cool:

Scots burn giant Viking ships and put on impressive fire displays.

Up Helly Aa is a relatively new holiday. It celebrates the culture of the Shetlands, islands that lie northeast of Great Britain. Through rain, snow, sleet and gales, Scots sing, dance and booze.

The head of the festival, the Guizer Jarl, represents a character from Norse Sagas every year. The party starts in the morning and lasts late into the night and then early morning hours of the next day. It ends with copious amounts of drinking and devouring mutton.

Chinese New Year, China

February 16
~1 billion celebrate

By Hendrik van den Berg - http://www.panoramio.com/user/1321709, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34924328
By Hendrik van den Berg – CC BY 3.0

Why it’s cool:

This is the largest annual human migration in the world.

Last year, around 3 billion trips were made– and most of those were by train and rail.

The Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival and Lunar New Year, is one of the biggest celebrations in the world. People celebrate in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines, as well as countries with large Chinese populations including Australia, New Zealand, North America, Pakistan and India.

Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

February 9-14
~2 million people visit per day

By Nicolas de Camaret from São Paulo, Brazil - Carnaval 2014 - Portela - Rio de Janeiro, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31661748
By Nicolas de Camaret – Carnaval 2014 – Portela – Rio de Janeiro, CC BY 2.0,

Why it’s cool:

Shake what you’ve got at the biggest party in the world.

The revelry lasts around a week in Rio de Janeiro, celebrating the week before Lent.

Samba dancers in elaborate and evocative costumes gyrate to music. Revelers gather in mass for several days of parades. Massive parade floats attempt to catch the eyes of the judges. The whole effect is overwhelming, lighthearted and fun.

Holi, India

March 1-2
~1 billion celebrate

By Narender9 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32807443
By Narender9 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Why it’s cool:

It’s a is a visual feast.

Participants throw colored powered on anyone and everyone. The ritual is a way to welcome Spring, celebrate triumph over evil, and connect with family.

Hindus celebrate Holi and the largest celebrations are in India. Holi has also moved into some mainstream events and is celebrated in America and Europe not as a religious holiday but a fun social event.

Loi Krathong (also Loy Krathong), Thailand

November 23
~52 million celebrate

By UrbanUrban_ru
By UrbanUrban_ru

Why it’s cool:

Thousands of paper lanterns are released into the sky for good luck in Chiang Mai.

This celebration looks like something out of a movie. Thai people celebrate the end of the monsoon season and offer rivers gifts for good luck in the form of floats made from flowers, banana leaves, candles, incense and sometimes a coin or food.

Chiang Mai is about the only place in Thailand that celebrates with lanterns, however across all of Thailand there are parades, festivals and floats on the rivers. The ritual can be romantic, cleansing or simply beautiful.



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