Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

What are you celebrating today?

Christopher Columbus photo via Wikimedia, indigenous Guatemalan girls photo via CultureGrams.


Today, or on a day soon to come this month, countries throughout the Western hemisphere will mark some aspect of the European encounter with the Americas. Which aspect they choose to celebrate depends on their perspective. And in fact some cities within the same country (namely the U.S.) will be celebrating under different titles.

In many Latin American countries, this October holiday is called Día de la Raza (Day of the Race) in an effort to highlight the indigenous cultures Columbus encountered when he arrived in the Americas. However, some indigenous groups, such as those in Chile, find nothing to celebrate on this day and instead call it Día de la Resistencia Indígena, or Indigenous Resistance Day.

Within the United States, the federal holiday is called Columbus Day, a title that, according to the New York Times, has been controversial from the start. Formally made a recurring holiday in 1934, Columbus Day began as a celebration more significant to Italian-Americans than the general population, and Italian-American groups today still advocate for the holiday to be called Columbus Day. As the figure of Columbus broadened to represent general European settlement of the Americas, resistance to the holiday deepened. As one Christian Science Monitor article (available via SIRS) put it, “For many native Americans, Columbus is a symbol of European colonialism, enabling widespread destruction of indigenous cultures and its people and paving the way for rampant oppression and forced relocation.” In response, many states with high native populations stopped celebrating Columbus Day and some cities and states added “Indigenous People’s Day” to the holiday name or changed the name entirely. Today only 25 states in all observe the holiday.

However, shifting the celebration from Columbus to the people he and other Europeans colonized is not itself without controversy. Last month an opinion piece (available via eLibrary) in The Weekly Standard argued that “up until fairly recently the European discovery of the Americas was regarded as a milestone in Western civilization . . .” The author also likened Columbus Day to other U.S. holidays that are outdated but “represent the great American habits of adaptation and historical amnesia.”

So what is the holiday called where you live today? Or is it considered a holiday at all? And do you agree with that status or name? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. In the meantime, check out more Columbus Day/Día de la Raza/Indigenous People’s Day articles and information in CultureGrams, SIRS, and eLibrary!

12 Winter Things You Can Borrow From Libraries

Happy Holidays!

Need some ideas to spruce up your holiday? Our infographic below lists a sampling of 12 wintertime items you can borrow from libraries besides books.

Library Winter Things Infographic

12 Winter Things You Can Check Out at Libraries (Infographic) via Piktochart


CultureGrams—Memorial Day and Summer Vacations

Today is Memorial Day, a public holiday in the United States that commemorates the men and women who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Many Americans celebrate Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials and decorating graves with flowers and American flags. The three-day weekend holiday also serves as an informal start to the summer vacation season. Many families take advantage of the warm weather and long weekend to travel or go camping.



An earlier blog post mentioned that the newly expanded CultureGrams World Edition reports now include subheads within some categories, allowing readers to find information much more quickly. One example is the vacation subhead in the recreation category. Here, readers can learn about how much vacation people in various countries take, as well as how they spend their vacations and where they like to travel.

Did you know that the average Dutch worker receives a month of paid vacation each year and typically spreads the time out by taking one week at Christmas, one week at Easter, and two weeks in the summer? Most French people get five weeks of vacation and take four of those weeks in the summer.

Popular destinations for Japanese  vacationers include the shrines and temples of Kyoto, Japan, and package tours of theme parks, such as Tokyo Disney and Universal Studios Japan. Because traveling outside of the Palestinian  territories can be difficult, many Palestinians stay close to home or visit the beach during their vacations. Few Rwandan  families can afford to take vacations, and travel is limited to visiting relatives on holidays and during school vacations.

Have you learned about any interesting vacation traditions in other countries? How do you spend your vacations? Let us know by leaving a comment!