Category Archives: Today’s Holiday

Primrose Day

Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, novelist, and twice prime minister of England, died on this day in 1881. When he was buried in the family vault at Hughenden Manor, near High Wycombe, Queen Victoria came to lay a wreath of primroses—thought to be his favorite flower—on his grave. Two years later, the Primrose League was formed to support the principles of Conservatism which Disraeli had championed. The organization’s influence ebbed after World War I, but Primrose Day is remembered in honor of Disraeli and his contribution to the Conservative cause. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Parashurama Jayanti

According to Hindu mythology, it was Parashurama (Rama with an Ax) who destroyed the evil Kshatriya kings and princes 21 times. His birthday, Parashurama Jayanti, is therefore observed with fasting, austerities, and prayer. It is also a day to worship Lord Vishnu, of whom Parashurama is believed to be the sixth incarnation. To Hindus, Parashurama represents filial obedience, austerity, power, and brahmanic ideals. The Malabar region on the southwest coast of India is believed to have been founded by Parashurama. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Takayama Matsuri

Held twice a year in Japan, in the spring and the autumn, the Takayama Festival is famous for its elaborately decorated yatai (festival floats), which are adorned with beautiful fabrics, lacquered wood, and patterned metals. Twelve of these floats appear at the April festival, held at Takayama’s Hie Shrine, and 11 participate in the October festival. Some yatai feature performances of kabuki (puppet plays), often performed by mechanical marionettes. A highlight of the festival is the parade of gongs known as tokeigaku, which produce a unique kind of folk music. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

French Quarter Festival

The French Quarter Festival celebrates Louisiana‘s distinctive musical and culinary traditions. Held in New Orleans, the festival features performances by local and other Louisiana musicians as well as those foreign musicians influenced by Louisiana’s musical traditions. Scores of bands perform at various sites throughout the French Quarter (also called the Vieux Carré). Sixty local restaurants operate food booths on the festival grounds, offering spectators the best in Louisiana cooking. In recent years, close to 300,000 people have attended this three-day event. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Juan Santamaría Day

Juan Santamaría is remembered as a national hero in Costa Rica. The country had been threatened in 1856 by William Walker, an American imperialist who planned to conquer Central America and use its citizens for slave labor. Santamaría, a 19-year-old drummer boy from the town of Alajeula, was part of the makeshift militia that fought off Walker’s forces. Juan Santamaría Day is actually a week-long festival of parades, concerts, and marching bands throughout the country, with the biggest celebrations in Alajuela. The official holiday is on April 11, the anniversary of Santamaría’s death. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Grand National

The Grand National is the world-famous steeplechase run at the Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England. It was started in 1839 by William Lynn, owner of the Waterloo Hotel in Liverpool, as a means of attracting hotel patrons. The course is four and one-half miles long and has 16 bush fences, of which 14 are jumped twice. The race is limited now to 40 starters; horses have to qualify by winning three other set races in England, although any horse that wins the Maryland Hunt Cup is automatically eligible to run. Only men could ride originally, but today women are eligible as well. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Merrie Monarch Festival

The Merrie Monarch Festival is a week of festivities in Hilo honoring Hawaii’s King David Kalakaua (1836-1891), who reigned from 1874 to 1891, and gave the United States exclusive rights to maintain a naval station at Pearl Harbor. The week’s events, starting on Easter, close with the world’s largest hula competition on the last three nights. The top hula schools (hula halau) compete in ancient and modern hula. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Feast of San Isidro of Seville

St. Isidro (c. 560-636), or Isidore, was born in Cartagena, Spain, and eventually became bishop of Seville. In Río Frío, Colombia, April occurs in autumn and is typically very dry. On San Isidro’s feast day, April 4, townspeople process the saint’s image around the streets in the hope that he will help bring rain. The procession takes two steps forward, then one step backward, and so on, with the idea that if it drags out long enough, some rain may fall before the festivities end. If no rain falls, those who had been singing praises to St. Isidro may begin to insult and swear at him. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Georgiritt

St. George is honored each year at Traunstein in Bavaria, Germany, on Easter Monday to commemorate the legend of George’s victory over the dragon that was threatening the pagan city of Sylene. Because St. George is usually depicted on horseback, the farmers of Traunstein decorate their own horses with garlands and ribbons and ride them across the fields and three times around the parish church. After the local priest blesses the horses and other animals, the procession turns toward the village. The festival ends with ritualistic sword dances that have been handed down from medieval times. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Easter (Hollywood, California)

The early Christians believed that on Easter morning, the sun danced in honor of the resurrection of Christ, which led to the custom of rising before dawn to witness the phenomenon. At the Hollywood Bowl, a huge outdoor amphitheater in the Hollywood Hills, California, the Easter sunrise service is attended by about 30,000 people, who spend the night in the stadium. About 50,000 calla lilies decorate the stage, where a huge choir and a symphony orchestra perform the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah and traditional Easter hymns. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary