Posts Tagged ‘Religious Holidays’
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:
For the second year in a row tomorrow, two of the holiest days on the Jewish and Islamic calendars, Yom Kippur and Eid al-Adha fall on the same day. Prior to 2014, this had not happened for 30 years. Last year, because of mounting tensions between Jews and Muslims, there was concern about the threat of violence, especially considering the contrasting nature of the two holidays.
Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, is considered to be the holiest day of the year in Judaism and ends the 10-day time of repentance know as the High Holy Days. It is a solemn, reflective occasion during which Jews stay indoors and fast. In Israel, activity largely comes to a halt, as most people abstain from driving, and airports, businesses and trains shut down. This has led to a phenomenon known as “bicycle day,” during which secular Israelis take advantage of the lack of traffic to spend the day biking, skating and getting out into the empty streets.
Eid al-Adha comes at the end of the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca made by millions of Muslims each year. It celebrates the story of Abraham (or Ibrahim), whose faith was tested when he was told by God to sacrifice his son. Abraham was ready to follow through but was stopped by an angel at the last moment and ended up sacrificing a ram instead. Eid al-Adha is holiday of celebration, feasting and getting out to be with family.
One thing that the two holidays have something in common: goats. According to this article, Jewish communities of old chose a goat to carry all of their sins and then cast it into the wilderness, a tradition that gave us the word “scapegoat.” In Islam, goats are ritually slaughtered to represent Abraham’s sacrifice of the ram.
Surprisingly, these two holidays have nothing to do with the Autumnal Equinox, which also occurs this September 23. It is just a fluke of the Jewish, Islamic and Gregorian calendars in 2015. We think of fall as a time when the temperature begins to drop, the leaves begin changing color and football season gets into full gear. But, what is an equinox? It is a change in the seasons in which the sun is at a 90-degree angle to the earth’s equator at noon and the length of the day is equal to the length of the night. Basically, before the fall equinox, the sun is up for more than half the day and after the equinox it is up for less than half. This lessening of the amount of sunlight is why we begin to get relief from the summer temperatures and the trees start their annual show of color. Oh, and if you have heard that the only time you can stand an egg on its end is on an equinox, click here.
Happy autumn, and happy birthday to Autumn (my wife, that is).