World Holidays – October


 

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Image by J€RRY via Flickr

 

Holiday Focus: Thailand’s Chulalongkorn Day

On October 23, Thailand honors its beloved monarch Chulalongkorn (also known as King Rama V), who ruled from 1868–1910. Ascending to the throne at age 15, Chulalongkorn is credited with abolishing slavery, reforming the economy and government, protecting Thailand from colonization, and modernizing the transportation system and the military. He promoted education throughout the country, established a currency, introduced Western medicine, and built the first museum. Today, Chulalongkorn is revered for his benevolent reign. To honor him, on October 23, the day of his death, people in Bangkok place wreaths at the Equestrian Statue in the Royal Plaza, light candles, and attend festivals and performances in honor of the king.

World Holidays Featured This Month

Cyprus – Independence Day – October 1
Celebrates Cyprus’s independence from Britain, gained in 1960.

Nigeria – National Day – October 1
Commemorates Nigeria’s independence after 60 years under British control (1900-1960).

India – Ghandi Jayanti (Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday) – October 2
Celebrates the birth of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Admirers embark on pilgrimages to the Raj Ghat, in Delhi, where Gandhi was cremated. Spinning and weaving (which Gandhi promoted as a way to combat British monopolies) are also done in his honor on this day.

Germany – German Unification Day – October 3
Commemorates the reunification of East and West Germany. Germans celebrate with a street festival, speeches, and marches. Each year, festivities are held in a different German state.

North & South Korea – Han’gul Day – October 9
Commemorates the founding of the Korean alphabet, which was developed by scholars in 1446. It is celebrated with Confucian rituals, traditional dance performances, and calligraphy competitions.

Taiwan – Double Tenth Day – October 10
Named for its date (the tenth day of the tenth month), this day celebrates the Chinese Revolution in 1911, which led to the establishment of the Republic of China. It is celebrated with rallies, parades, performances, and fireworks.

World Holidays – June


CultureGrams Global Holiday Roundup

Holidays provide a great way to introduce students to the culture and history of a country. Observe a world holiday in your classroom by asking students to research the holiday’s origins or learn more about a particular aspect of the country.

Holiday Focus: Tiananmen Square Anniversary

Since 1989, June 4 has been celebrated in Hong Kong, China to mark the anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square when government tanks attacked thousands of student demonstrators who had been calling for reforms in China. Hundreds of students were killed and thousands more were wounded. The Chinese government has attempted to prevent these celebrations in some cities, but Hong Kong has been able to maintain its celebration, largely because it has retained some degree of independence from mainland China. Each year thousands of participants come to Hong Kong and hold a candlelight vigil in honor of the victims of the massacre.

World Holidays Featured This Month

Sweden – Swedish Constitution and Flag Day – June 6
Commemorates both the adoption of the Swedish constitution in 1809 and the ascension of Gustavus I to the throne in 1523. Celebrations include patriotic gatherings, parades, and flag raisings. Flags are given as prizes to various youth groups, schools, and other organizations, and in Stockholm, a choir of several thousand voices sings the national anthem.

Portugal – Agriculture Fair at Santarem – Ten days beginning on the first Friday in June
Known for its cooking and agricultural production, Portugal holds an annual fair each June in the capital city of Santarem. Festivies include bullfighting, folk singing, and dancing. Exhibitors come from all over Europe to show their best farm animals and machinery. Cooking demonstrations provide entertaining instruction on important national dishes.

Madagascar – Famadihana – Between June and September
This unique celebration takes place among the Malagasy people of Madagascar. In honor of their dead ancestors, the Malagasy exhume the bodies of relatives who have passed on and share a feast and party with them. While the bodies are out of the tomb, the Malagasy also replace their old burial clothes and then rebury them. To keep things as sanitary as possible, the Malagasy typically perform these celebrations during the winter months, which are drier.

India – Snan Yatra – May-June (full moon day of Hindu month of Jyestha)
During this celebration, images of Hindu deities are carried ceremoniously to a special platform where water is poured over them while passages from the Vedas are recited. Afterwards, the images are clothed and taken into seclusion for 15 days, during which Hindus enjoy themselves with grand celebrations.

United States – Festival of the American West – July
Begun in 1972 and held in Logan, Utah, this educational festival teaches visitors about America’s 19th century pioneer and Indian cultures. Activities include cowboy poetry readings, dutch oven cook-offs, Western art exhibits, and parades of antique wagons.

Philippines – Independence Day – June 12
From 1898 until 1962, the Philippines celebrated its independence on July 4 to commemorate their ties to the United States, who had helped the Philippines gain its independence from Spain in 1898. After 1962, Filipinos began celebrating independence on June 12—the day that they had originally declared their independence from Spain. The day is full of activities, including military parades, athletic competitions and games, fireworks, and dances. The U.S. ambassador is often invited to speak at an official ceremony.

World Holidays – January


Holidays provide a great way to learn about the culture and history of a country. Observe a world holiday by  researching the holiday’s origins or learn more about a particular aspect of the country in CultureGrams.

Featured Observance: Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night is celebrated in England and other parts of Europe the night before Epiphany (January 6, a holiday that commemorates two events in the life of Christ: the visit of the three wise men and Christ’s baptism) and marks the end of the Christmas season. Festivities reflect anticipation for the new year. Twelfth Night cake is usually served. A bean and a pea are baked into the cake, and the two guests who find them in their slices of cake are considered the king and queen of the night.

World Holidays Featured This Month

Cuba – Cuba Liberation Day – January 1
Commemorates the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista’s military government in 1959.

Switzerland – Berchtold’s Day – January 2
Celebrated mainly by children, this holiday centers around nuts, which are collected, played with, and eaten as part of the festivities.

India – Lohri – January 14
Celebrates the end of winter and the return of longer days in the Northern Hemisphere.

United States – Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday – January 15
Commemorates the birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. A day that highlights African-American history and the civil rights movement.

Japan – Seijin-no-Hi (Adults Day, or Coming of Age Day) – Second Monday in January
A national holiday to honor people who turned 20 during the previous year.

Australia – Australia Day – January 26
Commemorates the founding of the first British settlement in Australia, in 1788.

World Holidays – October


Cyprus – Independence Day – October 1
Celebrates Cyprus’ independence from Britain, gained in 1960.

Nigeria – National Day – October 1
Commemorates Nigeria’s independence after 60 years under British control (1900-1960).

India – Ghandi Jayanti (Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday) – October 2
Celebrates the birth of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Admirers embark on pilgrimages to the Raj Ghat in Delhi, where Gandhi was cremated. Spinning and weaving (which Gandhi promoted as a way to combat British monopolies) are also done in his honor on this day.

Germany – German Unification Day – October 3
Commemorates the reunification of East and West Germany. Germans celebrate with a street festival, speeches, and marches. Each year, festivities are held in a different German state.

North & South Korea – Han’gul Day – October 9
Commemorates the founding of the Korean alphabet, which was developed by scholars in 1446. It is celebrated with Confucian rituals, traditional dance performances, and calligraphy competitions.

Taiwan – Double Tenth Day – October 10
Named for its date (the tenth day of the tenth month), this day celebrates the Chinese Revolution in 1911, which led to the establishment of the Republic of China. Celebrated with rallies, parades, performances, and fireworks.

Peru – Senor de los Milagros (Lord of the Miracles) – October 18-28
An annual procession based around a wall painting of Christ made by an Angolan slave in Peru in the 1600s. Portions of the wall are carried through the streets of Lima and are followed by thousands of people.

Find out more about these holidays in CultureGrams.

More World Holidays for April


Zimbabwe – Independence Day – April 18
Commemorates Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain, in 1980. Zimbabweans celebrate with singing and fireworks and by holding political rallies, parades, and performances.

United States – French Quarter Festival – Mid-April
Celebrated in New Orleans, Louisiana, the festival celebrates the unique culture and music of Louisiana. Musicians from Louisiana and those who have been influenced by Louisiana’s music perform. Bands perform throughout the French Quarter of New Orleans, and local restaurants open food booths serving traditional food from the region.

Switzerland – Sechselauten – Third Monday in April and the Sunday before
A festival held in Zurich that celebrates the coming of spring. A model of the Boogg (snowman, symbolizing winter) is paraded through the streets and then stuffed with firecrackers. The festival converges on the shore of Lake Zurich on Monday evening, when bells are rung, people on horseback circle the Boogg, and music is played. The event culminates with the explosion of the Boogg. Activities continue into the night.

Use Culture Grams to learn more about these holidays.