Category Celebration All Around the World

What kind of holiday is Rizal Day?

Rizal Day

Books and cartoons are filled with heroes. But real live people are known for great deeds, too. Most countries have heroes who helped their nation in one way or another. One hero of the Philippines is Jose Rizal.

Rizal helped the people of the Philippines fight for their freedom from Spain. The Spanish thought he wanted to cause a revolution. So they shot and killed him on December 30, 1896. The U.S.A. took control of the Philippines in 1898. The Philippines finally gained complete independence from the U.S.A. in 1946.

Celebrated every 30th of December, Rizal Day is a national holiday that commemorates the life and heroism of Dr. José Rizal – a man many consider to be one of the greatest heroes of the Philippines.

In the past, most of the official ceremonies on Rizal Day were performed at Rizal Park in the city of Manila.

During this official ceremony, flags are flown at half-mast and the President of the Philippines lays a wreath on the shrine dedicated to Jose Rizal.

Recently, it is no longer the case, as ceremonial programs are now being conducted nationwide especially in places where there are monuments of Rizal and government officials attend these programs as guest of honor.

As national holiday, most workers have the day off as a fully paid work day. However, those who do have to work on Rizal Day receive twice their normal day of wages.

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What is Kwanzaa and why is it celebrated?


How does your family celebrate its cultural heritage? If you are an African American, you may celebrate Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa celebrates a traditional African harvest festival. It is also a celebration of the rich cultural roots of African Americans.

Kwanzaa takes place from December 26 to January 1. Each evening during Kwanzaa, the family lights a candle in a special candleholder called a kinara. Each candle stands for one of the seven goals of Kwanzaa. These goals are ways that people can work together to build their communities and nourish pride and creativity among African Americans.

Near the end of the holiday, the community gathers for a feast. There is African food and music and dancing.

Five common sets of values are central to the activities of the week: ingathering, reverence, commemoration, recommitment, and celebration. The seven principles (nguzo saba) of Kwanzaa utilize Kiswahili words: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani). Each of the seven candles signifies the principles. Like the Jewish Hannakah, candles are used to represent concepts of the holiday.

The symbol of Kwanzaa includes crops (mzao) which represents the historical roots of African-Americans in agriculture and also the reward for collective labor. The mat (mkeka) lays the foundation for self- actualization. The candle holder (kinara) reminds believers in the ancestral origins in one of 55 African countries. Corn/maize (muhindi) signifies children and the hope associated in the younger generation. Gifts (Zawadi) represent commitments of the parents for the children. The unity cup (Kkimbe cha Umoja) is used to pour libations to the ancestors. Finally, the seven candles (mishumaa saba) remind participants of the several principles and the colors in flags of African liberation movements – 3 red, 1 black, and 3 green.

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Why is Christmas important?


For Christians all over the world, December 25 is an important, happy day. It is Christmas, the day that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.

Many Christmas customs are based on the birth of Christ. People give each other presents because the Three Kings brought presents to the baby Jesus. Christians sing songs, called carols that tell stories about Christ’s birth. And they put up scenes of Jesus’s birth, with figures of the shepherds, the Three Kings, and animals around the tiny baby.

Some customs probably came from harvest festivals that took place in December around Christmastime. The Roman harvest festival may have inspired feasting and having parties. The custom of burning Yule logs came from the Northern European harvest festival known as Yule.

Other customs are newer traditions. Decorating Christmas trees probably came from Germany. Sending Christmas cards came from England.

Today, one of the most popular Christmas customs is giving gifts. In the U.S.A. and Canada, a magical person named Santa Claus brings presents. Santa wears red clothes trimmed with white fur, and he has a snow-white beard and moustache. Santa drives through the sky in a sleigh drawn by eight reindeer. He slips down the chimney, leaves gifts, and goes on his way again.

In England, the gift bringer is called Father Christmas. He looks much like Santa Claus, but he has a longer coat and a longer beard. In Germany, Costa Rica, Colombia, and parts of Mexico, children get presents from the Christ child.

In Sweden, gifts and goodies are brought by a Christmas elf. This little gnome has a sleigh that is pulled by two goats.

Both Father Christmas and Santa Claus are popular in Australia and New Zealand. But in these countries, December comes during the summer. So many people celebrate by going on a picnic or having fun at the beach.

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What is Hanukkah and why is it celebrated?


On the stove, crisp potato pancakes sputter in a frying pan. In a corner, children spin square tops on the floor. On the table, candles twinkle in a candleholder. It’s Hanukkah, the Jewish Feast of Lights, and it lasts eight days.

Hanukkah celebrates a marvellous event that happened more than 2,000 years ago. At that time, the Jews won their struggle for religious freedom by defeating the Syrians, who tried to make them give up their religion.

Hanukkah is a cheerful time. There may be a party. People enjoy such special holiday food as potato pancakes, called latkes. Gifts and contributions are often given to the poor.

Each evening, families light some or all of the candles of the special eight-branched candleholder called a menorah. Some families sing songs, play games, and give their children gifts.

Hanukkah starts on the eve of the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, which falls in November or December. The word Hanukkah means “dedication”.

Here is a brief story of the menorah. After their great victory over the Syrians, the Jews began cleaning the great Temple of Jerusalem. They wanted to light the holy lamps. But they could find only a tiny jar of the special oil they needed for the lamps. They were amazed when the jar provided them with enough oil for eight days.

The eight days of Hanukkah are in memory of the eight days the lamps stayed lit. A special symbol of Hanukkah is the eight-branched candleholder called the menorah. On each day of Hanukkah, the candles of the menorah are lit – one on the first day, two on the second, and so on. Many menorahs have a branch to hold a ninth candle used to light the other candles.

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How is the Feast of St Nicholas celebrated?

Feast of Saint Nicholas

Long ago, a very kind man lived in what is now the country of Turkey. This man was a bishop named Nicholas. According to stories about him, Nicholas often helped needy children.

Many years after his death, Nicholas was made a saint. He became the patron saint of children. Today, he is honoured on December 6.

This day is a holiday in some European countries. On the night before, children put out their shoes. Early the next morning, they rush to see what Saint Nicholas left for them. According to tradition, good children receive gifts, and naughty children may get sticks.

On December 6, some European cities and towns also hold parades led by a figure dressed up as Saint Nicholas. He talks to children and often hands out small gifts.

Saint Nicholas always has a helper with him. Children are quite afraid of his helper because the helper keeps track of who was good and who was naughty. In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas’ helper is called Black Peter.

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What is the month of December known for?

The Month of December

December is the twelfth month of the year. In ancient Roman times, December was the 10th month of the year. So the month got its name from decem, the Latin word for “ten”.

In the northern half of the world, winter begins on December 21 or 22. There, it is the shortest day of the year. At the same time, summer begins in the southern half of the world. There, it is the longest day of the year.

During December, the winter solstice tips the Northern hemisphere the furthest distance from the sun. Through most of the month, Northern hemisphere inhabitants lose about 2 minutes of sunlight per day until the winter solstice. The winter solstice ushers in the astrological mark for winter and the shortest day on the calendar. However, from that day forward, the days will slowly lengthen. They may not be warmer, but the Earth is tilting on its axis back toward the sun. 

December is a big baking month for many. In the United States, families, churches, schools, and organizations bake cookies to exchange. They are often part of the gift-giving and ugly sweater parties that occur right before or during Christmas, Kwanza, and Chanukah.

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Why is Thanksgiving holiday celebrated?

Mm-mmmm! Smell the turkey cooking! It’s Thanksgiving Day and company’s coming! In the U.S.A. and Canada, this is a special holiday. Families and friends gather to eat and give thanks for their blessings.

Thanksgiving Day is really a harvest festival. That’s why it is celebrated in late autumn, after the crops have been gathered.

The Pilgrims of New England celebrated the first harvest thanksgiving. They were early English settlers who went to America in 1620 looking for a better life. The Pilgrims had a hard time during their first year, many of them dying during the first winter. But the next year, in 1621, they had a good harvest. So, their governor declared a three-day feast.

The Pilgrims invited American Indian friends to join them for the special feast. In time, other colonies began to celebrate a day of thanksgiving.

Today, people in the U.S.A. celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November. Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the second Monday in October.

For thousands of years, people in many parts of the world have held harvest festivals. The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival was once a celebration of the end of the rice harvest. African Americans celebrate the African harvest at the end of December.

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Why is Remembrance Day on November 11th?

Remembrance Day

For more than four years, the war raged on. Then, at 11:00 a.m. on November 11, 1918, the guns stopped firing. World War I was over on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. An armistice – an agreement to end the war – had been signed.

November 11 became Armistice Day, a day on which many nations honour those who died for their country. In France, it is still called Armistice Day. In Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, November 11 is Remembrance Day and honours all people who have died in war. The United Kingdom celebrates Remembrance Day on the Sunday closest to November 11.

In 1954, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day in the U.S.A. It became a time to honour all the men and women who have served in the nation’s armed forces.

Each year, at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, U.S.A., there are special ceremonies. They begin with two minutes of silence, followed by a bugler playing “Taps”. A wreath is placed at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The tomb honours members of the U.S. armed forces who have died in war. The red poppy is the symbol of Remembrance Day.

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What is the seven five three festival?


According to an old tradition in Japan, girls who are 3 or 7 years old and boys who are 5 are thought to be especially fortunate. So on November 15, families who have children of these ages take part in a festival called Seven-Five-three.

On this day, the families go to a shrine, or place of worship. There, they give thanks for the good health of the children. They also ask for future health and happiness for the children.

Outside the shrine, parents buy sweets and toys for the children. Later, the children give some of their sweets to visiting friends and relatives. In return, they are often given gifts.

In the Japanese tradition, the Gedatsu Church observes this auspicious occasion with a special prayer before the local guardian shrine, offering thanks for the children’s healthy and safe development. Each child is given a colorfully decorated bag containing the traditional chitose ame (literally meaning “a thousand years”) candy in appreciation for the child’s vitality and long life. Applications forms for participation in the festival are available at church offices.

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Why is Day of the Dead celebrated?


Children bite into crisp sugar skulls. People dressed as skeletons dance down the streets. Cemeteries light up with the warm glow of candles. It’s November 1, the start of the two-day Day-of-the-Dead celebration in Mexico.

The Day of the Dead (el Día de los Muertos), is a Mexican holiday where families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion that includes food, drink and celebration. A blend of Mesoamerican ritual, European religion and Spanish culture, the holiday is celebrated each year from October 31- November 2. While October 31 is Halloween, November 1 is “el Dia de los Inocentes,” or the day of the children, and All Saints Day. November 2 is All Souls Day or the Day of the Dead. According to tradition, the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31 and the spirits of children can rejoin their families for 24 hours. The spirits of adults can do the same on November 2.

On this day, many Mexicans believe that the spirits of the dead return to visit their homes. Processions are held through towns. Families and friends gather in cemeteries and clean and decorate gravesites with flowers to welcome the spirits.

People picnic together and enjoy such special foods as sugar skulls and breads baked with a plastic skeleton hidden in them. It is a time when people remember the dead and celebrate life.

You can make a Day-of-the-Dead decoration out of self-hardening clay.

Roll one colour of clay into an egg shape about the size of your fist. Lay it on its side and push down gently so that it has a flat bottom. Gently mould it use a pencil to make holes for the face. Decorate the skull with different colours of clay. Let the skull dry one or two days on a wire rack. When the skull is hard, display it on a windowsill.

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