“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Friday, 10 January 2014

Festival Days

I treated myself to a really pretty calendar from the Calendar Club shop this year - beautiful Japanese paintings, each with an accompanying Haiku.

When I was transferring all the birthdays etc from 2013 to 2014, I came across a typed insert, between June and July. It is double-sided, and shows all the holidays taken in various different countries (24 in all). The holidays for the US, the UK and Canada were integrated in the calendar proper. It makes fascinating reading.

Many of the holidays (and of course the word holiday derives from holy-day) are religious. In Christian (or nominally Christian) countries, the standard holidays include Good Friday, Easter Monday and Christmas Day, with variations around the theme: some include Maundy Thursday, and the more traditional countries also celebrate other  dates in the Christian year, such as Epiphany in January, Ascension Day in May, Pentecost and Corpus Christi in June, the Assumption in August, All Saints and All Souls in November, and Immaculate Conception and St. Stephen's Day (Boxing Day) in December. Sundry national saints also have their own holidays, such as St. Patrick in Ireland, and St. Peter & St. Paul in Italy.

In Israel, of course, all the major Jewish festivals are celebrated, and Buddhist festivals have their own holidays in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and South Korea. Islamic holy days are celebrated in Singapore and India, of the countries listed. India had a particularly rich list of religious festivals, having special holy days for Buddhist, Muslim and Sikh festivals, as well as for Hindu ones.

But it was the "other" holidays I found particularly fascinating. I think that the holidays deemed worthy of time off tell a lot about what a particular country values. Many of the countries listed included a holiday (or more than one) to do with sovereignty - a day to commemorate a revolution or independence or liberation. And many countries celebrate their workers on Labor Day (usually 1st May). And all celebrate New Year's Day.

The ones that particularly caught my eye included a Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity (celebrated in Argentina in October); Picnic Day (celebrated in Australia's Northern Territory in August); the Dragon Boat Festival (celebrated in China and Hong Kong at the beginning of June); and Children's Day and Respect for the Aged Day (celebrated in Japan in May and September respectively).

But my favourite country for the holidays they celebrate has to be South Africa. Their holidays include Human Rights Day in March, Family Day and Freedom Day in April, Youth Day in June, National Women's Day in August, Heritage Day in September, and Day of Reconciliation and Day of Goodwill in December.
How wonderful!

1 comment:

  1. I think Britain may be the ONLY country that has public holidays that don't celebrate anything. Our simple Spring and August Bank Holidays. British pragmatism, secularism, and non-jingoism.