September 18-20 - September 27-28, 2020
rōSH (h)əˈSHōnə yawm -kip-er
לְשָׁנָה טוֹבָה L'shanah tovah
To a good year
The Jewish High Holidays, among the most religiously significant dates in the Jewish calendar, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, are a blend of joy and solemnity. Celebrated according to the Soli-lunar calendar, in which the months begin on the new moon and last either 29 or 30 days, this period of the “Days of Awe” falls on different dates each year. Rosh Hashanah (literally “head of the year” or New Year) begins this time with prayer, the shofar (ram’s horn) blasts, and celebration. A week later Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) focuses on fasting, prayer, and seeking forgiveness. With their blend of feasting and fasting, atonement and forgiveness, and celebration and renewal, these Jewish holidays, observed both at home and in the synagogue, welcome a new year’s season that is both liberating and spiritually uplifting.
JUNETEENTH - joon·teenth
(a combination of “June” and “nineteenth”)
Also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Cel-Liberation Day
Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, is the oldest US celebration commemorating the end of slavery. Although Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation becomes official on January 1, 1863, not all slaves in Confederate territories are immediately free; it isn’t until June 19, 1865 that the last slaves, living in Texas, are informed of their freedom. The reactions range from shock to jubilation, and the African American celebration, coined Juneteenth, is born. It is a time for reassurance, prayer, food (barbecue!), and gathering of family.
Today this African American holiday celebrates Emancipation, racial progress, and ancestors, highlighted by family gatherings and good eats. Milwaukee hosts one of the largest Juneteenth celebrations in our country. The Juneteenth flag’s star represents new freedom and the red-white-blue colors communicate that the slaves and their descendants are all Americans. Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday in 47 states, and activists are currently pushing Congress to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday.
Ramadan Mubarak "Blessed Ramadan"
April 23 - May 23, 2020
Ramadan is celebrated in the Islamic calendar’s ninth month. It is a month-long time of fasting between dawn and sunset with special opportunities to reflect on faith and history. Muslims believe that it is during this time that the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the prophet, Muhammad. Families and friends gather to pray and share in suhoor or meals before sunrise and evening iftars to break the daylong fast. At the appearance of the new moon Ramadan ends with a joyful three day feast called Eid al-Fitr, which includes traditional meals, sharing of gifts, prayers, and acts of charity.
Chinese New Year - Spring Festival
Chun Jie / CHUN gee-EH
Spring Festival in China celebrates the beginning of the lunar calendar or new year. The festivities take place in January or February for fifteen days from the evening preceding the first day of the year through the concluding Lantern Festival. Fireworks and anything red are used to ward off the mythological monster, Nian, who is afraid of loud sounds and reddish color. The celebration is a time to honor ancestors and gather for feasting. It is, also, a traditional time to clean homes, seeping away bad luck, and to give money in red paper envelopes, called hongbao, for good health and happiness. Processionals and parades fill the streets with giant dragons.
Diwali - The Festival of Lights
A 4-5 day celebration, held during October to November by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists, during which clay lamps, diyas, are lit to signify the victory of good over evil. Diwali marks the beginning of the New Year and is the biggest and brightest festival, celebrated with feasts, family, friends and fireworks. The emphasis on light represents both the peace of inner light and the triumph of knowledge over ignorance, light over darkness. Homes are decorated, legends are spoken, and prayers are shared. The traditional five days of Diwali include Dhanteras (Day of Fortune), Naraka Chaturdasi (Day of Knowledge), Diwali (Day of Light), Annakut (New Year), and Bhai Dui (Day of Love Between Siblings).