Category Archives: Today’s Holiday

Carnival (Rio de Janeiro)

Carnival is the largest popular festival in Brazil, and the most extravagant celebration takes place in Rio de Janeiro, where, since the 1930s, the parades, pageants, and costume balls go on for four days, all accompanied by the distinctive rhythm of the samba. The whole city is decorated with colored lights and streamers, and impromptu bands play on every street corner. The high point of the Carioca (as the natives of Rio are known) Carnival is the parade of the samba schools (Escola de Samba), which begins on Carnival Sunday and ends about midday on Monday. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Hari-Kuyo

Hari-Kuyo is a requiem service for needles held throughout Japan. The services are attended not only by tailors and dressmakers but also by people who sew at home. Traditionally, a shrine is set up in the Shinto style. On the top tier are offerings of cake and fruit, on the second tier there is a pan of tofu, and the bottom tier is for placing scissors and thimbles. People insert their broken or bent needles in the tofu while offering prayers of thanks to the needles for their years of service. A hari-kuyo is also held in Kyoto on Dec. 8. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Sàmi National Holiday

The Sàmi people are indigenous to the arctic area of the Nordic countries. At the end of the 1800s, the Norwegian government implemented policies of Norwegianization. However, attitudes changed by the mid-1950s, and Norwegian authorities recognized the importance of maintaining the Sàmi culture. February 6 is recognized as Sàmi National Holiday in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. This day is full of activities that celebrate the Sàmi culture. First celebrated in 1993, it has become a popular event and a time for the indigenous Sàmi people to celebrate their cultural identity. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Birthday of Johan Runeberg

Johan Ludvig Runeberg (1804-1877) is widely regarded as Finland’s greatest poet. Schools throughout Finland are closed on Runeberg’s birthday. Busts and pictures of him are displayed in shop windows, particularly in Helsinki. A special ceremony is observed at Runeberg’s monument in the Esplanade, where his statue is decorated with garlands of pine and spruce, suspended between four huge torches. At night the torches are lit, and lighted candles burn in the windows of houses and apartments. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Fiesta of San Blas

San Blas (Saint Blaise) is the patron saint of Paraguay, and his feast day, February 3, is observed throughout the country. Asunción and other large cities host religious processions, and the smaller villages often have bullfights on this day. Flowers, ribbons, and paper money (attached to the tail) adorn the bull. Because this event is a humorous commentary on bullfighting, rather than a real bullfight, the goal is not to kill the bull. Instead, bullfighters try to grab hold of the bull and remove the money from its tail without getting hurt. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Yemanjá Festival

Yemanjá is a major festival of the Candomblé religion in the Rio Vermelho district of Salvador, Bahia state, Brazil. Maes-de-santo and filhas-de-santo (men and women mediums, or followers of the saints) sing and dance from daybreak on, summoning Yemanjá, or Iemanjá (the goddess of the ocean), to the festival. Offerings are placed in boats and carried down to the sea, where they are set afloat. Thousands of people flock to the coast for the festivities. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

National Freedom Day

National Freedom Day commemorates the abolition of slavery in the United States. On that date in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, making slavery illegal. The purpose of the day is to celebrate the freedom from slavery for all people and to acknowledge the importance of freedom and harmony in American society. Freedom Day is not a federal holiday, and a strong drive is underway to adopt June 19, or Juneteenth, as it is known, as the American holiday to celebrate the end of slavery. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Tu Bishvat

Tu Bishvat, also known as New Year for Trees, is a minor Jewish festival similar to Arbor Day. It is first referred to in the late Second Temple period (515 BCE-20 CE), when it was the cut-off date for levying the tithe on the produce of fruit trees. Today the children of Israel celebrate Tu Bishvat with tree planting and outdoor games. In other countries, Jews observe the festival by eating fruit that grows in the Jewish homeland—such as oranges, figs, dates, raisins, pomegranates, and especially almonds, the first tree to bloom in Israel’s spring. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Franklin D. Roosevelt's Birthday

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) was the 32nd president of the United States. His administration encompassed the Great Depression and World War II. Roosevelt’s birthday is observed by family members, friends, and representatives of various organizations at his home at Hyde Park, New York. Wreaths are laid, and a family member places cut flowers on the grave. The superintendent of the military academy presents the “President’s Wreath,” a prayer is offered, and the event concludes with three volleys from a ceremonial firing squad. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

St. Charlemagne's Day

Charlemagne wasn’t actually a saint at all; he was an emperor and the first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, crowned in 800 by Pope Leo III. Although he was never able to read and write himself, Charlemagne, whose name means “Charles the Great,” founded the University of Paris. In fact, his reign was marked by a huge cultural revival, including significant advances in scholarship, literature, and philosophy. He died on January 28, 814. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary