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Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

CultureGrams: Learn about St. Dévote’s Day, January 27

A religious parade passes through the Royal Palace Square in Monte Carlo during the annual celebration for Saint Dévote. Via the CultureGrams Photo Gallery.

CultureGrams is a great way to learn about holidays around the world. Each World and Kids edition report has a Holidays section that discusses the traditions and celebrations associated with a country’s most popular holidays. Not only can learning about a country’s holidays be fun, but it’s also an engaging way to learn about a country’s culture and gain insight into what is important to the people who celebrate the holidays.

Some holidays celebrated in other countries may sound familiar, but others may be new to you. For example, are you familiar with St. Dévote’s Day, celebrated in Monaco on 27 January? That’s this Friday! From the World Edition Monaco report Holidays section, we learn:

On 27 January, Monégasques honor St. Dévote, the patron saint of the principality. Dévote was persecuted and martyred for her faith in the fourth century. Her body was eventually buried in Monaco, and several miracles were associated with Dévote. Years later, a group of thieves tried to steal and sell Dévote’s bones, but Monégasque sailors retrieved the bones and set fire to the thieves’ boats. On this holiday, the prince or a member of the royal family sets fire to an old boat in the port to commemorate the rescue of the bones.

Not only can you read about St. Dévote’s Day on CultureGrams, but you can also find photos of the celebration in our Photo Gallery so you can see what the celebration is like:

On the Feast of Saint Dévote, relics are carried in a procession around Monaco. Via the CultureGrams Photo Gallery.

 

On the eve of the Feast of Saint Dévote, Monégasques prepare to burn a boat to commemorate the prevented theft of Dévote relics. Via the CultureGrams Photo Gallery.

Find more holidays celebrated around the world in CultureGrams World and Kids editions!

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

“Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers….Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1964

Stone of Hope at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Stone of Hope at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (public domain)
via National Park Service

The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, a man who spent his life promoting nonviolent methods of social change to end segregation and discrimination and help African Americans gain their civil rights, was himself a victim of violence when he was assassinated outside his Memphis hotel room on the evening of April 4, 1968. Four days later, Michigan Congressman John Conyers introduced the first legislation providing for a Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday to honor King’s life and achievements. Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, headed the mission to rally popular support for a King Holiday. She worked for years, testifying before Congress, launching petition drives, and urging governors, mayors, and chairpersons of city councils across the U.S. to pass resolutions to honor her husband’s birthday on January 15.

While some individual states passed laws honoring Dr. King with a legal holiday, the idea of a federal holiday faced opposition and stirred controversy. Finally, in 1983, the legislation declaring the third Monday in January a federal legal holiday commemorating Dr. King’s birthday was signed by President Ronald Reagan. It was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986, though many states continued to boycott the holiday. It was not until 1999 that New Hampshire became the last state to make it a paid state holiday.

The only federal holiday commemorating an African-American is now celebrated each year as a remembrance of Dr. King’s life and work, and with people joining together to honor the civil rights leader’s memory through volunteer service to make an impact on their local and global communities.

You can learn more about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the King Holiday by visiting these websites, available through SIRS Issues Researcher:

Dr. Martin Luther King Day

The King Center

Martin Luther King Day of Service

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site

Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute

It’s Native American Heritage Month: Standing Rock Sioux Reservation

Dakota Access Pipeline Native American protest site, on Highway 1806 near Cannonball, North Dakota.

Dakota Access Pipeline Native American protest site, on Highway 1806 near Cannonball, North Dakota, August 15th, 2016. (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license)

It is Native American Heritage Month.

What does this mean? How do we commemorate? I’ve seen signs in schools announcing this yearly celebration, and I’ve perused displays in libraries. I’ve noted local museums’ native-themed exhibits. Classrooms may spend time learning about the history of Native Americans. Young students may take part in creating a native-themed craft; older students may be tasked with researching an eminent Native American or the history of a Native American tribe. Adults may seek out drum circles, powwows, native chanting experiences, and herbal medicine discussions.

This year, perhaps above all else, we can honor Native American Heritage Month by learning about and discussing the current protests at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.

The tribes of the Great Sioux Nation, at the center of this controversy, came together at Standing Rock to oppose the $3.7 billion Dakota Access pipeline, which would cut across the land of the Standing Rock Sioux and possibly threaten their water supply. Other Native American tribes and many of non-native descent joined in the protests. Large-scale demonstrations began a few months ago, in August, when activists blocked the pipeline’s construction sites at Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The protests have grown and have become increasingly violent. But the opposition remains strong.  In a September press release, Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman David Archambault II stated that the pipeline will “destroy our burial sites, prayer sites and culturally significant artifacts.”

The Dakota Access pipeline, approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in July, would tap into the Bakken Formation, an oil deposit that spans five U.S. states and into Canada. It could provide more than 7 billion barrels of oil to the United States, reducing the country’s reliance on foreign oil. Energy Transfer Partners, a Texas-based natural gas and propane company, claims that the pipeline would help the states that are impacted, providing up to 12,000 construction jobs and bringing more than $150 million in revenue.

As Americans, it is important that we acknowledge the events and people at Standing Rock. As researchers, teachers, and students, it is also important that we explore both sides of the issue. SIRS Knowledge Source and its Leading Issues feature, which includes such topics as Keystone Pipeline and Indigenous Peoples, explores the controversy.

For further research…

Check out this timeline of events prior to and since the first physical collision of interests in August.

Get an overview of the viewpoints of proponents and opponents.

Consider the implications of those who are funding the pipeline.

Read about the history the land of the Standing Rock Sioux.

Visit SIRS Knowledge Source’s and SIRS Discoverer’s Native American Heritage Month’s Spotlight features.

CultureGrams: Eid al-Adha

livestock.EID

Livestock bazaar in Kashgar (Xinjiang, China) ahead of Eid al-Adha, by Keith Tan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) via Flickr

Today marks the beginning of Eid al-Adha celebrations for over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide. The holiday, meaning “Festival of the Sacrifice”, commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son and is celebrated during the twelfth month of the lunar calendar. People visit friends and family and exchange gifts. Many families slaughter a sheep on this day as a symbol of the story of Abraham. Tens of millions of animals are sacrificed around the world in the first two days of the celebration. Families who cannot afford their own animal may join other families and pool their money together to buy an animal. The meat from the sacrifice is shared with family and friends, but a portion must also be reserved for the poor.

rice.vendor.EID

A street vendor makes food at the livestock bazaar in Kashgar (Xinjiang, China) ahead of Eid al-Adha, by Keith Tan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) via Flickr

The holiday takes place following the the Muslim Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. In Saudi Arabia, the government declares a 12-day holiday that includes the days of the Hajj and the following Eid al-Adha holiday. Traditionally, Eid al-Adha festivities lasted about 4 days. Today, celebrations range in length between different countries–ranging from as little as 3 days (in the Philippines), 9 days (in Gulf states) and 12 days (Saudi Arabia). Learn more about some of the different countries that celebrate Eid al-Adha with CultureGrams: see Egypt, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Albania, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.

CultureGrams: Independence Day around the World

Fireworks [Public Domain] via Pixabay

Fireworks [Public Domain] via Pixabay

Happy Fourth of July! It’s fun to compare traditional American Independence Day celebrations, such as barbecues, parades, and fireworks, with Independence Day traditions from around the world. Enjoy the following descriptions, originating from Latin America, Europe, and Africa and visit CultureGrams Holiday sections to find more details about holiday celebrations around the world.

Bolivia: Independence Day, held on 6 August, is the anniversary of the establishment of the republic in 1825. Two days before, students participate in parades in the cities where they live. Some wear traditional clothing, and some participate in marching bands. The president then chooses one of these cities to be the site of the country’s official Independence Day celebrations and gives an official address to the country. More parades, these ones featuring people from various institutions and indigenous groups, take place as well. Later in the day, families often spend time together at a fair, amusement park, or festival.

Dominican Republic: On Restoration of Independence Day, Dominicans celebrate the restoration of their independence following a short period under Spanish rule (called La Anexion, from 1861 to 1863) less than a decade after gaining independence from Haiti. The holiday commemorates La Guerra de Restauracion (the War of Restoration) fought to regain the country’s independence. On this day, the president gives an official speech in honor of the holiday. Mes de la Patria ends with Independence Day celebrations, which include a military parade and a presidential address to the nation.

Guinea-Bissau: A few days before Independence Day celebrations, major streets are decorated with the country’s flags. Banners, billboards, and flyers depicting patriotic images and the national theme for the year’s celebration are also displayed. A special speech given by the president is broadcast all around the country. Individuals and organizations spend the day reflecting on the country’s challenges and ways to increase national development. Schools organize special programs that feature the heroes of independence.

Poland: Independence Day celebrates Poland’s independence gained in 1918. The holiday was banned under Soviet rule and reinstated after Poland regained its independence. The main Independence Day celebrations take place in Kraków and Warsaw and are broadcast throughout the country by radio and television. The day is celebrated with parades and speeches. Ceremonies honor Poles who died fighting for their country. Homes, businesses, and government buildings are decorated with Polish flags.

The Stonewall Riots and the Birth of Gay Liberation

Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, New York City, 2011 [Credit: InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, Creative Commons Attribution – Share Alike Generic 2.0 license] [via Wikimedia Commons]

Peace, love, and condemnation

We generally consider the 1960s in the United States as an era of peace and love. But the homosexual communities during this decade were commonly condemned by mainstream society.

Homosexuality was still classified as a “mental disorder” by the American Psychiatric Association. Police raids were conducted in establishments known to be “gay-friendly.” Homosexual acts were illegal, and many people were arrested for engaging in them. Some were fined; others were sentenced to long prison terms–even lifetime sentences. There were not many places where a gay man or woman could be open about their sexuality. Countless lesbians and gays lived “in the closet,” an existence in which they could not express their true selves.

The year was 1969

Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, 2011 [Credit: InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike Generic 2.0 license], [via Wikimedia Commons]

Stonewall Inn, site of the 1969 Stonewall riots, New York City [Credit: InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, CC BY-SA 3.0] [via Wikimedia Commons]

During the 1960s, New York City was home to the largest gay population in the country. The city was also considered to be one of the most aggressive against this alternative culture.

As the night of June 27 turned to June 28, in the year 1969, the New York City police conducted what they thought would be a routine raid at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. Previous raids always resulted in arrests and not much opposition from the bar’s patrons.

Not on this night.

On this 1969 summer night, the gay liberation movement was born.

Out of the melee, pride emerges

In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, gay patrons, regularly harassed by the New York City police, took a stand. Word of the demonstration spread and many joined the riot at the Stonewall Inn. Protests broke out throughout the city. They continued for days, despite police attempts to control the crowds. Shouts of “gay power” and singing of “We Shall Overcome” rang through the streets.

The Stonewall riots inspired local and national dialogue about gay civil rights. Very soon after the riots, a gay advocacy group in NYC was formed and a newspaper was launched. In commemoration of the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first gay pride parades were held in Greenwich Village, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Two years after the riots, nearly every major U.S. city had established a gay-rights organization. And in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.

Nearly five decades later…

Forty-seven years after the Stonewall riots, the gay liberation movement has evolved to encompass the civil rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people. Incredible strides have been made in the LGBT movement:

In 2000, Vermont became the first U.S. state to legalize civil unions between same-sex couples; four years later, Massachusetts was the first to legalize gay marriage. A June 2015 Supreme Court decision legalized same-sex marriage in all states, a huge victory for the LGBT movement.

What constituted a hate crime in the United States was expanded in 2009 to include crimes motivated by the victim’s gender, sexual orientation or identity or disability. 

In 2011, the Obama administration addressed the United Nations and announced that LGBT rights are “one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time” and that the country would support international efforts promoting LGBT rights.

Transgender rights  became a mainstream issue after the turn of the century and quickly picked up momentum. By 2013, two major federal rulings advanced equal opportunity employment for transgender people. The year 2013 also heralded further progress in the struggle for transgender rights: California enacted the first U.S. law protecting transgender students, and the American Psychiatric Association eliminated its diagnosis “gender identity disorder.”

June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, otherwise known as LGBT Pride Month. It was established in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Riots. It is a time of celebration, commemoration, and remembrance: a celebration of living freely, openly, and honestly; a commemoration of all that the LGBT community has contributed and what the LGBT rights movement has accomplished; and a remembrance of members of the LGBT community who lost their lives to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS.

Join SKS and its June Spotlight of the Month in honoring LGBT Pride Month. Learn about the history of the gay rights movement and follow its path as it is forged in the United States and many countries around the world.

“The Stonewall riot may have been the start of a civil rights movement, but it was not the beginning of our history.” ― Tom Cardamone, author, and activist

Mother’s Day Around the World

“Mother and baby ducks” [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Do you know about any Mother’s Day traditions in other countries? This article gives some interesting facts about Mother’s Day in ten different countries. For example, did you know that in Japan, the carnation is also the main flower associated with Mother’s Day? Or that in the UK, Mother’s Day developed out of a tradition called Mothering Sunday that was celebrated as early as the 16th century? Or that many countries in the Arab world (including Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon) celebrate Mother’s Day on March 21st, at the beginning of the spring equinox? Other traditions are sobering: in France, in the years following WWI, the government awarded medals to French mothers of large families–as a way of honoring them and their contribution to rebuilding France’s population following the war.  

While many countries celebrate Mother’s Day in ways similar to the US–including family gatherings, presents, and flowers, many celebrate mothers in other ways. For example, in Ethiopia, people honor mothers in the three-day Antrosht festival, which follows the fall rainy season. During this festival, communities gather to enjoy large meals and to sing and dance. In India, a festival called Durga Puja celebrates the Hindu goddess Durga, and lasts for several days. Explore different cultures and families in this National Geographic photo gallery of mothers and children around the world. Below is a bit more information about different Mother’s Day traditions from CultureGrams.

“Flag map of Thailand” [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Thailand

Several holidays celebrate the monarchy of Thailand. Celebrations include a national holiday for Queen Sirikit; her birthday (August 12th) is referred to as Mother’s Day, since the queen is revered as the mother of all Thai people.  Mother’s Day in Thailand honors both Queen Sirikit and Thai mothers. During the month of August, the streets and city centers are decorated with lights and feature large portraits of Queen Sirikit. The holiday is filled with parades and ceremonies. On Mother’s Day, people decorate their homes with flags, lights, and portraits of the queen. White jasmine flowers are common decorations as a symbol of maternal love and are a common Mother’s Day gift. Learn more about Thai culture and holidays with CultureGrams.

El Salvador

Mother’s Day is an important holiday for Salvadorans. Some schools host special breakfasts or brunches for mothers and, even before Mother’s Day was declared a state holiday in 2016, many schools dismissed their students to allow them to spend the day with their mothers. Mothers and grandmothers are given gifts and treated to one or more meals throughout the day. A popular way to recognize mothers is with a mariachi band hired to play and sing a few songs at the woman’s home, either in the morning or at night, during a dinner or party for the mother. Learn more about El Salvador with CultureGrams.

Flag-map_of_El_Salvador

“Flag-map of El Salvador” [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Holidays and Celebrations

Today is Christmas Day, a day that many of the world’s Christians traditionally celebrate the birth of Christ.  Wherever you might be today or whatever your religious or holiday traditions and observances may be, we hope you have a wonderful day!

There are many celebrations around the world which take place in the winter months.  Did you know that SIRS Discoverer’s “Spotlight of the Month” provides very interesting information about many of these unique and varied holidays and observances?  The “Winter Holidays Around the World” spotlight offers kids a great opportunity to become familiar with traditions and symbols and celebrations across many cultures.  Plan some time during this winter time of year to expand your knowledge of our world culture!

Winter Spotlight SIRS Discoverer

Contact the ProQuest Training and Consulting Team to learn all about SIRS Discoverer, its key elements, and how it is all put together. You can contact us directly to arrange a free meeting or join us in one of our public webinars. We’re happy to answer your questions and help you get the most you can from this superb resource designed for K-8 level students.

5 Notable Library Philanthropists

"Library" via Pixabay [Public Domain]

“Library” via Pixabay [Public Domain]

The holidays are about giving back. Libraries are in the business of giving back year-round through resources, books, information and much more. While we appreciate our libraries and librarians for all their hard work, sometimes we want to do more. Not all of us may be able to donate large amounts of money to benefit libraries, but I wanted to highlight some philanthropists who did. Giving back to libraries goes beyond financial donations, and this could mean donating books or items, your time or resources or even ideas for the community. Let’s take a look at 5 philanthropists who made a difference for our libraries.

How do you give back to your local libraries? Tweet us at #ProQuest or leave a comment below!

 

Veterans Day Timeline

Honoring the sacrifices many have made for our country in the name of freedom
and democracy is the very foundation of Veterans Day.
–Representative Charles B. Rangel (D-NY)

A Marine Corps bugler plays taps during the Marine Corps Sunset Parade at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Va., June 30, 2015. Credit: Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz [public domain] via U.S. Department of Defense

A Marine Corps bugler plays taps during the Marine Corps Sunset Parade at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Va., June 30, 2015. Credit: Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz [public domain] via U.S. Department of Defense

1918: Near the end of World War I (then called the “Great War”) an armistice, or temporary ceasefire agreement, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, effectively ending the war.

1919: President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day.

1938: An Act of Congress approved on May 13 made the 11th of November in each year a legal federal holiday–a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.”

Eisenhower signing of HR7786, June 1, 1954, this ceremony changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day. By U.S. Government [public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Eisenhower signing of HR7786, June 1, 1954, this ceremony changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day. By U.S. Government [public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

1954: Armistice Day was originally intended to honor the veterans who served in World War I. But the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, a national campaign was launched to make the holiday one dedicated to all American veterans. Congress amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation, on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

1968: President Lyndon Johnson signed The Uniform Holiday Bill on June 28, which was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. The bill took effect in 1971 though many states continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.

1971-1975: The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. The Federal observance of Veterans Day was held on the fourth Monday of October for four years.

1975: On September 20th, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97, which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. Ford noted that “it has become apparent that the commemoration of this day on November 11 is a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens.”

Army Nurse Corps, before boarding for Italy (circa 1942-1945) [public domain] via Library of Congress

Army Nurse Corps, before boarding for Italy (circa 1942-1945) [public domain] via Library of Congress

1982: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C. to honor the “courage, sacrifice and devotion to duty and country” of the more than 58,000 men and women who gave their lives or remained missing during America’s longest war.

1997: On October 18, the Women in Military Service for America Memorial was dedicated to the nearly two million women who have served in defense of our nation.

2014: According to the Census Bureau, there are 21.8 million living veterans of the U.S. armed forces. If you are one of them, thank you. If not, take the opportunity today to honor the bravery, patriotism, sacrifices and service of America’s veterans at an event or celebration near you. After all, in the words of American journalist Elmer Davis (1890-1958):

“The Republic was not established by cowards; and cowards will not preserve it.…
This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”