Want to see how a comma splice can be made into a correct sentence without changing the punctuation at all? Look at what happens when I delete was from the first sentence here:
She was looking forward to the midwinter holiday, the festival in honour of their ancestors.
Now the festival in honour of their ancestors becomes a nonrestrictive appostional phrase (eep! arghh! jargon…!) explaining/expanding on midwinter holiday, rather than a separate (and bland) sentence requiring a period before The festival.
Notice that midwinter is not hyphenated.
The last comma in the second sentence needs to go away:
It would start with a blessing ceremony, an item hunt, and then gift-giving and playing games.