November 1 - 30th, 2023
Celebrating Traditions, Heritage, Culture, and Contributions
Native American Heritage Month is celebrated during the month of November each year. Congress chose this month as a time to honor Native Americans since November concludes the Native harvest season, which is also a time of celebration and giving of thanks.
The evolution of this celebration began in 1916 when Red Fox James of the Blackfeet Nation rode on horseback from state to state seeking a day to honor Native Americans. In 1975 President Ford moved the celebration to a week-long event. Finally, in 1990 Congress passed a resolution, declaring November as Native American Heritage Month.
America is a land of many cultures, some dating back thousands of years. As of 2021, there are 574 federally recognized Native American Nations, each with its own unique traditions, heritage, culture, and contributions.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the following American Indian Nations make their home in Wisconsin:
- Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
- Brothertown Indian Nation
- Forest County Potawatomi
- Ho-Chunk Nation
- Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
- Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
- Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin
- Oneida Nation
- Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
- Mole Lake (Sokaogon Chippewa Community) Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
- Saint Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin
- Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians
Diwali - Festival of Lights
“Night shines like day when Diwali dusk falls.” Although there are many versions of this five-day celebration, the common thread is lighted lamps symbolizing the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. It’s a reminder that, even in the darkest of times, we can help one another.
Held during the end of October or early November in the darkest time of the lunar cycle, Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists. It marks the beginning of the New Year and is the biggest and brightest festival, celebrated with feasts, family, friends, and fireworks. Homes are decorated, legends are spoken, and prayers are shared. On the first day, rows of candles or oil lamps called diyas are set up and rangoli designs are created. Day two is for shopping and cooking. On day three, the darkest day of the lunar calendar, the diyas are lit and fireworks set off. On day four families share meals, and on the final day, the bonds between brothers and sisters are celebrated.
HISPANIC & LATINO
September 15 - October 15, 2023
Celebrating Heritage, Contribution, and Culture
Hispanic & Latino Heritage Month, celebrated from September 15 to October 15, 2023, highlights the history, contribution, and culture of people with ancestors from across the Caribbean, Central and South America, Mexico and Spain. Reaching from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego and spanning much of the Caribbean, countries in this region each have their own rich history, including indigenous cultures and civilizations.
The recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded in 1988 to a month by President Reagan. The date of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua for Mexico on September 16 and Chile on September 18.
This month of honoring, also, includes the African and East Asian diasporas in Latin America as well as indigenous cultures.
The languages of this region include hundreds of indigenous languages in addition to Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, Creole, and English. This year the theme for Hispanic & Latino Heritage Month centers on “Latinos: Driving Prosperity, Power, and Progress in America”.
September 15 - 17 - September 24 - 25, 2023
rōSH (h)əˈSHōnə yawm -kip-er
לְשָׁנָה טוֹבָה L'shanah tovah
To a good year
The Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, among the most religiously significant dates in the Jewish calendar, are a blend of joy and solemnity. Celebrated according to the solilunar 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. The ten days in between these holidays are a time of introspection.
Rosh Hashanah (literally “head of the year” or New Year) begins this time with prayer and reflection, the shofar (ram’s horn) blasts, and celebration that looks forward to the new year. Challah bread is baked in a round loaf, symbolizing the seasons and cycle of life. 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
Last year Juneteenth became the newest federal holiday in the US. Always celebrated on June 19, it is the oldest US celebration commemorating the end of slavery. Although Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which declared “all persons held as slaves” were henceforth free, became official on January 1, 1863, it took until summer, June 19, 1865 for the last slaves, living in Texas, to be informed of their freedom. The reactions ranged from shock to jubilation, and the African American celebration, coined Juneteenth, was born.
Juneteenth can be celebrated at culinary soul summits, on rooftops, with food trucks, at plated dinners, in neighborhood centers or local parks. Like the Great Migration, Juneteenth has traveled via trains and autos from its Texas birthplace to every state in our nation.
Today this African American holiday celebrates Emancipation, racial progress, and ancestors, highlighted by family gatherings and good eats (barbecue!). It is a time for spirited joy, reassurance, reflection, and prayer. Milwaukee hosts one of the largest Juneteenth celebrations in our country.
Kodomo no Hi
May 5th, 2023
Koh – DOH – mo NO HEE
Kodomo no Hi, or Children’s Day, is a Japanese national holiday that always falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the year. It was known as Boy’s Day until 1948 when the government reframed the day as a time to celebrate all children.
On Kodomo no Hi carp images are flown on poles or kites outside public buildings; on homes, these fish flags often represent each family member. Since Koi, or carp, are spirited and determined as they fight to swim upstream, these symbols represent the hopes of strength and bravery. Treats, called kashiwa mochi (kah – SHE – wah MOE – chee), or rice cakes with sweet bean paste wrapped in oak leaves, represent hardiness. And, iris, which bloom in early May, festively decorate houses to ward off evil spirits.
Ramadan Mubarak "Blessed Ramadan"
Evening of March 22, 2023 – Evening of April 20, 2023
In the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims worldwide celebrate Ramadan. This month-long time of fasting between dawn and sunset includes prayer, reflection, and being in community. It is a time when meals are eaten with intention. Muslims believe that it was during these days when the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the prophet, Muhammad.
In our time 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 joyful feasting called Eid al-Fitr or “festival of breaking the fast,” which includes traditional meals, sharing of gifts, prayers, and acts of charity. In greeting each other during Ramadan most Muslims use the Arabic translation, “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Blessed Ramadan.”
Chinese New Year - Spring Festival
Chun Jie / CHUN gee-EH
The Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year is celebrated in many countries, including China, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, and Mongolia. Beginning on the 24th day of the 12th lunar month, people do a thorough winter cleaning of their homes, bidding farewell to the old year by “sweeping away the dust.” The Spring Festival festivities take place over 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 give money in red paper envelopes, called hongbao, for good health and happiness. Processionals and parades fill the streets with giant dragons.
In 2023 Chinese New Year falls on January 22. This is the year of the Rabbit, which represents peace and longevity. How do you wish someone a happy Chinese New Year? In Mandarin, wishing someone happiness and prosperity, you say, “Gong xi fa cai.”
Winter Solstice &
The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper
And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing, To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us — listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight, This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Rituals that Connect Us
From the very beginning of time, there is the sun. We see it in spring, summer, autumn, and winter. We notice some days are long with light and warmth, and others are short with dark and cold. In the darkness we invent rituals to remind us of the light, to represent a new beginning, to herald the rebirth of life.
These rituals become traditions that we celebrate, whether or not we remember where they came from. Many rituals are celebrated with food to represent good fortune in the months to come. In Asia, long noodles represent longevity. In Spain, twelve grapes are eaten at midnight as the clock chimes to symbolize the months ahead. Round foods of all kinds evoke the year’s turning. In Greece, a pomegranate is broken open; the more seeds, the more good luck awaits. Fish are prized for three luck-related reasons: their scales resemble coins, they always swim forward, and their schools symbolize abundance. All these rituals represent new beginnings. Anticipation of what’s to come.
Here are a few of the traditions that are celebrated during this time of year.
- Saint Nicholas Day – December 6th
- Chanukah – December 7th – 15th
- Bodhi Day – December 8th
- St. Lucia Day – December 13th
- Las Posadas – December 16th – 24th
- Winter Solstice – December 21st
- Yalda December 21st
- Pancha Ganapati – December 21st – 25th
- Christmas – December 25th
- Kwanzaa – December 26th – January 1st
- Oshogatsu – January 1st
- New Year’s Day – January 1st
- Eastern Russian Orthodox Christmas – January 7th