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
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 beseaching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can here them
Echoing, behind us – listen!
All the long echoes sing the same delight
This shortest day
As promise wakens the sleeping land.
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends, and hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year, and every year.
“All The Long Echoes Sing The Same Delight”
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 dark with bleakness and cold. In the darkness we invent rituals to remind us of the light, to bring in the new year, 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 schools of them symbolize abundance.
Here are a few of the traditions that are celebrated during this time of year.
- Saint Nicholas Day – December 6
- St. Lucia Day – December 13
- Las Posadas – December 16 – 24
- Chanukah – December 18 – 26
- Winter Solstice – December 21
- Yalda – December 21
- Pancha Ganapati – December 21 – 25
- Christmas – December 25
- Kwanzaa – December 26 – January 1
- Bodhi Day – December 30
- Oshogatsu – January 1
- New Year’s Day – January 1
- Eastern Russian Orthodox Christmas – January 7
Diwali - Festival of Lights
“Night shines like day when Diwali dusk falls.” Although there are many versions of this five day celebration, everywhere lamps are lit, since the common thread is 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 & LATIN
September 15 - October 15, 2022
Celebrating Heritage, Contribution, and Culture
Hispanic & Latin Heritage Month, celebrated from September 15 to October 15, 2022, 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 and for Mexico on September 16 and Chile on September 18.
However, some people felt that the term, “Hispanic,” with its direct reference to Spain and connection to colonialism, was not inclusive enough. But, as with any personal identity, how can one or two words hold all of us? So, 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 & Latin Heritage Month centers on “Esperanza: A Celebration of HIspanic Heritage and Hope.”
September 25 - 27 - October 4 - 5, 2022
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 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. 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, the shofar (ram’s horn) blasts, and a 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
Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, is the oldest US celebration commemorating the end of enslavement. It captures the essence of the American ideal – freedom and justice for all.
Until 2021 Juneteenth was an African American holiday. Last year President Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth the 12th federal holiday, making it a national holiday for the first time in 2022.
In the Juneteenth flag the star represents new freedom and the red-white-blue colors communicate that the slaves and their descendants are all Americans. Many in the Black community have also adopted the use of the colors of the Pan-African flag as part of the Juneteenth tradition; the red, black, and green represent the blood, soil, and prosperity of Africa and its peoples.
Kodomo no Hi
May 5th, 2021
Koh – DOH – mo NO HEE
Kodomo no Hi, or Children’s Day, is a Japanese national holiday celebrated every year on May 5th. It was known as Boys’ Day until 1948, when the government decreed the day as a time to celebrate the strength, health, and happiness of all children.
Kodomo no Hi has well known traditions and decorations, including the flying of koinobori (kay-noh-BORE-ee), or cloth carp streamers, flown on poles and kites outside public buildings and private homes, in the hope of bringing good health and fortune. Koi fish, or carp, are spirited and determined fish who fight to swim upstream; they symbolize the desire for children to become strong and brave. Within homes, families also display kabuto (ka-BOO-toe), or samurai helmets, and samurai dolls; these items represent courage and strength. Special treats, called kashiwa mochi (kah-SHE-wah MOE-chee), or rice cakes filled with sweet bean paste, are wrapped in oak leaves, representing hardiness. And Iris flowers, which bloom in early May, are symbolically placed in homes to ward off evil spirits.
Ramadan Mubarak "Blessed Ramadan"
April 1 - May 1, 2022
Ramadan is celebrated in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar at the first sighting of the crescent moon, following the appearance of the new moon. In keeping with this lunar phenomenon, Ramadan has no fixed dates, and since the new moon is not in the same position at the same time globally, the beginning and end dates depend on lunar sightings in the respective locations. This is a time for Muslims to reflect on faith and history. It is during Ramadan that Muslims believe the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Families and friends pray and share in suhoor, or meals before sunrise, and evening iftars to break their daylong fasts; these meals are a source of spiritual comfort and historical continuity. At the appearance of the next new moon Ramadan ends, and there is joyful feasting called Eid al-Fitr or “festival of breaking the fast.” This 3-day festival includes traditional meals, sharing of gifts, prayers, and acts of charity. In greeting one another during Ramadan most Muslims say “Ramadan Mubarak,” meaning “Blessed Ramadan.”