Día de San Lorenzo

St. Lawrence of Rome (San Lorenzo) was a deacon under Pope Sixtus II in the third century. His feast day is August 10. As the patron saint of Zinacantán, Chiapas State, Mexico, San Lorenzo is honored with a five-day festival that takes place August 8-11 each year. The highlight is a procession, interrupted periodically by a dance performed by the Capitanes. Each dancer holds one foot out in front while hopping on the other foot for a time, then they shift so that the opposite foot is held out. Thousands attend the festival, which includes a huge open market and a fireworks display. Discuss

National Women's Day (South Africa)

On August 9, 1956, a protest march was held at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa. Approximately 20,000 women participated in a peaceful march to protest against policies that restricted the rights of African women. Every year on August 9, people gather at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Amphitheatre in Cape Town to celebrate National Women’s Day. This day celebrates the contributions and achievements women have made to society and for women’s rights, and to acknowledge the difficulties and prejudices many women still face. Discuss

Colombia Battle of Boyacá Day

Colombia, known as New Granada in the early part of the 19th century, was then ruled by Spain. Simón Bolívar, the leader of the independence movement in South America, began a military campaign to liberate Colombia in 1817. He achieved a major victory at the Battle of Boyacá on August 7, 1819, when he surprised the Spanish forces crossing a bridge and routed them. Colombians celebrate this national holiday with parades and festivals throughout the country. Ceremonies take place at the cemeteries where the fallen soldiers of the battle are buried. Discuss

Feast of the Transfiguration

As described in the first three Gospels, Jesus took his three closest disciples to a mountaintop to pray. While he was praying, his face shone like the sun and his garments became glistening white. Then a bright cloud came over them, and a voice from within the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” This feast is observed by Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Lutherans, and Anglicans. The mountaintop on which the Transfiguration took place is traditionally believed to be Mount Tabor, a few miles east of Nazareth in Galilee. Discuss

Feast of Forgiveness

The Festa del Perdono, or Feast of Forgiveness, is observed annually in Assisi, Italy, where St. Francis built his humble hermitage, known as the Porciúncula (“little portion”), in the 13th century. Porciúncula also refers to the plenary indulgence that used to be given to those who visited this sanctuary on August 2, the date set by Pope Honorius III in 1221. Although in the beginning the indulgence could only be gained in the Porciúncula, the privilege was eventually extended to all churches having a connection with the Franciscan order. Discuss

Trinidad and Tobago Emancipation Day

Since 1985, August 1 has been celebrated in Trinidad and Tobago as Emancipation Day, rather than Columbus Discovery Day, as in former years. Slavery was abolished in 1833 throughout the British Empire, and eventually slaves in the colony of Trinidad and Tobago were freed. The day begins with an all-night vigil and includes religious services, cultural events, processions past historic landmarks, addresses by dignitaries, and an evening of shows with a torchlight procession to the National Stadium. Discuss

Jamaica Festival

Originally called the Independence Festival of Jamaica because it ended on Jamaica‘s Independence Day, the Jamaica Festival emphasizes the cultural roots, conservation, and revival of traditional art forms by ethnic groups—particularly music, dance, and games of African origin—as well as nurturing contemporary arts. Competitions determine who will perform each year, the categories of which include fine art, photo, and culinary exhibits, music, dance, plays, and literary readings. The festival has been held in Kingston, Montego Bay, and elsewhere on the island since 1963. Discuss

St. Olav's Day

St. Olav is the patron saint of Norway, and the anniversary of his death is still marked by religious services, fireworks, and public merry-making. Every year the battle in which he died is reenacted during the St. Olav Festival in Trondheim. In the Faroe Islands, this is known as Olavsoka, or “St. Olav’s Wake,” a national holiday. Parliament opens on the 29th, but the festivities—which include dancing, sports events, speeches, drinking, and a parade of members of Logting (parliament)—begin the night before and continue into the early hours of the 30th. Discuss

Crop Over

This harvest festival in Barbados was originally celebrated in the 1800s by slaves at the end of the sugar-cane harvest. Today, Crop Over is a civic celebration which takes place during the last three weeks of July and usually ends on the first Monday in August. There are historical displays, craft shows, fairs, open-air concerts, calypso music and dancing, and “stick licking”—a self-defense sport similar to fencing. The first Monday of August is the finale, known as the Kadooment, which includes the judging of costumed bands at the National Stadium and a grand calypso procession. Discuss