Category Archives: Today’s Holiday

Ghana Farmers' Day

Much of Ghana‘s national economy revolves around agriculture, so it is only appropriate that this African country reserves a date to honor its farmers and provide them a day off from their labors. An important component of the day is the awards ceremony, which is held on the regional and the national levels. Judges who have followed farmers’ achievements throughout the year bestow prizes for excellence in such categories as husbandry practices, ecological awareness, use of new technology, and contributions to the local community. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Faunalia Rustica

In Roman mythology Faunus was a god of the forest who was also associated with fertility. It was believed that eerie noises in the woods came from Faunus. The Faunalia was mostly celebrated by farmers and other rural workers on December 5 with feasting and games. For a time, city-dwellers adopted the festival and observed it on February 13. Faunus was known as the brother, father, or husband of Bona Dea. The Fauni, or fauns, were spirits of the forest who resembled the satyrs of Greek legend. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Pilgrimage to Adam's Peak

A footprint preserved in stone is a sacred site at the top of a mountain in Dalhousie, Sri Lanka. Depending on one’s religious tradition, the footprint belongs to Adam (Muslim), the Buddha, St. Thomas (Christian), or Lord Shiva (Hindu). Pilgrims have made the climb for over 1,000 years to the summit of Adam’s Peak. Though the terrain is rugged, many pilgrims make the ascent by the light of lanterns so they can arrive at the break of dawn and catch a spectacular view of the western coastline. According to local tradition, a woman who reaches the top will be reincarnated as a man. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Blowing the Midwinter Horn

The custom of Midwinterhoorn Blazen in the province of Overijssel, Netherlands, is believed to have originated more than 2,000 years ago. The local farmers make their winter horns out of pieces of birch wood, and they produce a piercing wail that carries for miles over the frozen countryside. Although in pagan times the blowing of the horns was thought to rid the earth of evil spirits, today the horns announce the coming of Christ. In Oldenzaal, a special melody composed by the area’s champion hornblower is played beginning at dawn on Advent Eve and continuing until Three Kings’ Day (Epiphany). Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Ngondo Festival

For the majority of the Sawa, a coastal ethnic group in Cameroon, guidance comes from the Jengu water spirits. The annual Ngondo Festival is a special occasion for Sawa chiefs to petition these spirits for prophecies and warnings and to communicate those messages to a gathered assembly. The event, which lasts a few weeks, takes place on the banks of the Wouri River in the country’s most populous city, Douala. Various cultural activities accompany the discernment process of the festival. Activities preceding the water feast include traditional wrestling competitions, a canoe race, and a Miss Ngondo pageant. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Barbados Independence Day

After having been a British colony since the 17th century, Barbados became independent on this day in 1966. A ceremony took place near the capital city of Bridgetown, during which the British flag was lowered and replaced by the Barbados flag, and the national anthem was sung. Today, festivities extend through the month of November with the National Independence Festival of the Creative Arts. On Independence Day, festivities culminate with a parade and the final appearance of performers, and exhibits of art work and photography are on display. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

St. Andrew's Eve (Poland)

The eve of St. Andrew’s Day is a special night for young Polish girls who want to find husbands. They play Andrzejki, or “Andrew’s games,” a kind of fortune telling. They break off dry branches from cherry trees, place them in wet sand, and tend them carefully for the next few weeks. If the branch blooms by Christmas, it is believed that they will marry within the year. Pouring liquid wax into cold water is another popular method of foretelling their romantic futures. The shapes into which the wax hardens often provide clues with which they can read their fate. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Albania Independence Day

The Albanian people proclaimed their independence from the Turks on this day in 1912. The Turks first invaded this part of Europe around 1400, and they ruled the country for more than 400 years. It wasn’t until the end of the Balkan War that Turkish rule was abolished and a proclamation of independence issued on November 28, 1912. Independence Day is a public holiday observed throughout Albania and is marked by a festive parade in Tirana, the capital. It is followed by Liberation Day on November 29, the day on which the invasions of German and Italian troops during World War II were ended in 1944. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Seged (Sigd)

Seged is a religious festival observed only by Ethiopian Jews known as the Beta Israel. The participants wear clean, preferably white, clothes, symbolic of the state of purity in which they have kept themselves for seven days. The priests who lead the procession sing prayers and carry the Orit (the Jewish scriptures in Geez) and other holy books wrapped in colored cloth. Everyone who climbs the hill carries a stone, which is placed on a circular wall marking the holy area where the Orit will be placed. The ceremony includes a commemoration of the dead and readings from the Orit. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Stir-up Sunday

The collect (liturgical prayer) for the Sunday preceding Advent in the Church of England begins, “Stir up, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people.” But the other “stirring up” that takes place on this day is more literal: the stirring of the batter for the traditional Christmas pudding, which must be prepared weeks in advance. It is customary for family members to take turns stirring the pudding with a wooden spoon (symbolic of Jesus’s crib), which is thought to bring good luck. The stirring is done clockwise, with eyes closed, and the stirrer makes a wish. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary