Pack your bags and check out these saintly festivals around the globe before Christmas arrives
This year, take a break from the tried and tested and go for travel hotspots that double up as saintly pilgrimage destinations. These festivals that celebrate saints will help you experience cultures of different communities. Check out this list put out by Booking.com where you can choose from some of the most highly celebrated festivals of saints:
St. John the Baptist
Sao Joao is a Catholic festival celebrated by the patrons of St. John the Baptist in Goa. Marking the birth date of St. John, the festival is celebrated on June 24 every year. The celebrations in Goa include praying for a good harvest, musical melodies brought to life with instruments such as the ghumot, mhadalem and kansallem, and colourful floats displayed on boats. The village of Saligao also offers free food to visitors who look to indulge in the festival.
Would you believe that the tiny emerald isle of Ireland is the origin of one of the most celebrated annual festivities around the world, St. Patrick’s Day? This global celebration of Irish culture takes place on March 17 and is a day full of parties, parades, Irish food, live music, dancing and of course, lots and lots of Guinness! Aside from the festivities in Dublin, Chicago is famous for dyeing its river green in celebration while travelers Down Under in Australia can watch the spectacular fireworks show in Sydney, or for those in Tokyo during this time, check out the parades at the two day ‘I love Ireland’ festival.
Although widely celebrated as England’s patron saint and is seen as England’s national day (April 23), St. George wasn’t born in the UK. In fact, it is believed that he was born more than 2,000 miles away in Cappadocia (what is now in modern-day Turkey). Cappadocia also happens to be one of the world’s most picturesque destinations, steeped in history with its famous underground cities and its volcanic cones. For an unforgettable experience this St. George’s Day, head to his birthplace to learn about his heritage where he joined the Roman army, becoming a high-ranking officer. In recent years, holiday makers from around the world travel to Cappadocia to enjoy a hot air balloon ride across the spectacular landscape, making it a very ‘instagrammable’ destination.
St. Martin is a popular day, mostly celebrated by children in Germany, seeing them taking part in a magical lantern procession in towns and cities across the country. Children spend hours preparing their paper lanterns in school or kindergarten and then gather on the streets to sing songs about St. Martin - which celebrates modesty and altruism. The tradition happens every year on the evening of November 11. Munich is a great destination to discover how the locals play homage to St. Martin as the streets are brightly lit with colorful lanterns. After the picturesque procession, restaurants are flooded with visitors to indulge in a traditional Goose dinner, so it is recommended to book well in advance.
This St. Andrew’s Day celebrates Scotland’s national day in its capital city, Edinburgh. On St. Andrew’s Day, which is celebrated on November 30, the Scottish city is bursting with storytelling events and traditional music, with food and drink markets lining the cobbled streets. It is also a great shopping destination as the late November celebrations help kick off the Christmas festivities.
If you are already eagerly awaiting 2020’s Christmas festivities, then plan ahead for the celebration of St. Nicholas Day which takes place each year on December 6 throughout many European countries. In Germany, stockings are swapped for old boots and children place these by the front door or fireplace, hoping to wake up to them full of presents. Meanwhile in Finland, often after feasting, locals take a trip to the sauna which is a unique Christmas tradition and is associated with purity to celebrate life. Elsewhere in the world, in several other countries such as France, the Netherlands and Sweden, the joyful festivities take place on the eve of St. Nicholas Day, and loved ones gather to indulge in a delicious meal.