Category Archives: Today’s Holiday

St. Dismas's Day

According to the Bible, two thieves were crucified with Jesus. The one on his right, traditionally called Dismas, repented and was promised, “Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). He is therefore the patron saint of persons condemned to death. In the United States, the National Catholic Prison Chaplains’ Association, by special permission from Rome, observes the second Sunday in October as Good Thief Sunday and holds masses in American prisons in honor of St. Dismas. March 25 is also the Feast of the Annunciation. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Bretzelsonndeg (Pretzel Sunday)

On Bretzelsonndeg in Luxembourg, it is the custom for boys to present their sweethearts with decorated pretzel-cakes. If a girl wants to encourage the boy, she reciprocates with a decorated egg on Easter Sunday. If the pretzel-cake is large, the egg must be large also; a small cake warrants a small egg. The custom is reversed during Leap Year, when girls give cakes to boys on Pretzel Sunday, and boys return the favor with eggs at Easter. Married couples often participate in the exchange of cakes and eggs as well. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Burning of the Socks

This pungent event takes place in Eastport (a suburb of Annapolis), Maryland, on the day of the Vernal Equinox. The burning of the socks began in the mid-1970s when a man named Bob Turner, upon leaving his job at the boatyard on the first day of spring, decided to burn his socks in tribute to the coming warmer weather. Turner’s personal custom caught on with others and became a local tradition. The Eastport Yacht Club now organizes the yearly event at which people drink beer, eat oysters, and burn socks, all in the name of driving away winter and welcoming spring. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Return of the Swallows of San Juan Capistrano

San Juan Capistrano was the name of a mission built on the Pacific Coast by Father JunĂ­pero Serra in 1777. Even after the buildings collapsed in an earthquake 35 years later, thousands of swallows continued to nest in the ruins of the church. Local people noticed that the swallows tended to fly south on October 23, the death anniversary of St. John of Capistrano, and returned on March 19, St. Joseph’s Day. A Swallow Festival is held each year at the mission in San Juan Capistrano near Los Angeles, California, around the time of the birds’ return. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Haru no Higan

Higan is a week of Buddhist services observed in Japan at the spring and autumn equinoxes. Higan means the “other shore,” and refers to the spirits of the dead reaching Nirvana after crossing the river of existence. Thus, Higan is a celebration of the spiritual move from the world of suffering to the world of enlightenment and is a time for remembering the dead, visiting, cleaning, and decorating their graves, and reciting sutras, Buddhist prayers. O-hagi, rice balls covered with sweet bean paste, and sushi are offered. It is traditional not to eat meat during this period. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Holmenkollen International Ski Meet

The Holmenkollen International Ski Meet is a Norwegian winter festival held at Holmenkollen Hill outside Oslo. It is the main winter sports event of the year and it covers all types of skiing—cross-country racing and jumping as well as downhill and slalom. The world’s best skiers meet here to compete for highly coveted prizes. At the high point of the festival, over a hundred thousand spectators, headed by the king and the royal family, gather at the famous Holmenkollen Hill to watch the ski-jumping event, which has been held here since 1892. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Shwedagon Pagoda Festival

The people of Myanmar celebrate their local pagodas or temples on the full moon day in the month of Tabaung (February-March in the Gregorian calendar). The largest celebration is held at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, the former capital city of Myanmar. Visitors to the pagoda take the opportunity to make offerings and to pray. This ancient temple, which is more than 2,500 years old, is 300 feet tall and has a dome covered in gold and precious jewels. The dome, with its two tons of gold and more than 5,000 diamonds, glitters so brightly that it can often be seen by airplanes flying overhead. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Magha Puja

This important Buddhist holy day is celebrated in India, Laos, and Thailand, where it is a national holiday. The day commemorates the occasion when 1,250 followers ordained by the Buddha arrived by coincidence at Veluvan Monastery in Rajagriha, Bihar, India, to hear him lay down monastic regulations and predict his own death and entry with Nirvana. On this day there are sermons in the temples throughout the day, and monks spend the day chanting. Each person carries flowers, glowing incense, and a lighted candle in homage to the Buddha. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Whale Festival (Mendocino)

Gray whales spend their summers in the Bering Sea but migrate every year to the waters off the coast of Mexico, where females give birth to their young. Since the whales prefer to hug the coast as they make their long journey, they are often visible to those living in seaside towns. The neighboring northern California towns of Mendocino and Fort Bragg hold their whale festivals on consecutive weekends in March. Their celebrations include whale-watching cruises, wine tasting, seafood chowder tasting, nature walks, and visits to the Cabrillo Point lighthouse. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary