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11
Dec

Christmas Traditions: Imported from Germany

WARNING: SANTA SPOILER ALERT! Many of the traditions that Westerners hold so dear during the holiday season actually stem from German folklore. A Christmas tree, commonly the evergreen fir tree, has been used to celebrate winter festivals (both Christian and Pagan) for thousands of years. Some pagans would use the tree or its branches as …

12
Nov

Celebrating the Festival of Light – Diwali in India

Diwali (Deepavali) is one of the biggest festivals for Hindus, celebrated with great enthusiasm and happiness all across India. The festival is celebrated for five continuous days, with the third day celebrated as the main Diwali festival or ‘Festival of Lights.’  Different colorful varieties of fireworks are always associated with the holiday. On this auspicious …

29
Oct

How Cultures Honor the Departed

Ghosts, goblins, witches, and zombies usually dominate this time of year for the Halloween holiday in the U.S. However, around the world November 1st is acknowledged as a holiday to remember those who have passed.  The most famous celebration occurs in Latin America, specifically Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico. The festival …

25
Aug

Asia’s Ghost Festivals

  The Ghost Festival is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist festival held in many Asian countries. Taiwan is celebrating the Ghost Festival on Friday, August 28th, though in some countries the date is different. Traditionally, locals believed that ghosts haunt the island of Taiwan for the entire seventh lunar month, when the mid-summer Ghost Festival …

17
Jul

Cultural Brief: Bastille Day

This past Tuesday was Bastille Day, a French holiday celebrating the country’s independence. The French National Day is celebrated on July 14 and is celebrated to commemorate the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789, which helped spark the French Revolution. This was the culmination in Paris of a violent revolution that had begun two …

9
Jul

A Cultural Adrenaline Rush: Spain’s Running of the Bulls

This week the annual Running of the Bulls took place in Pamplona, Spain. Every year from the 6th to the 14th of July the fiestas of San Fermin are celebrated in Pamplona. These fiestas are celebrated in honor of San Fermin, a patron saint of Navarra, the region of Spain where Pamplona is located. Though …

17
Jun

Ramadan Kareem

The world rotates around a variety of calendars: most people follow the Gregorian calendar which is used widely throughout the continents; the Chinese follow their own lunisolar calendar, while Jewish people follow a calendar that shares similarities with the Chinese one. Meanwhile, Muslims follow the Islamic calendar. Within this calendar, a variety of events occur, …

27
Apr

Happy King’s Day!

King’s Day in the Netherlands is known as the biggest street party of the year.  City streets and squares become a sea of orange as most citizens wear the national color in celebration.  The name of the holiday changes depending on whether a king or queen is ruling and the day is a celebration of the …

20
Mar

Persian New Year

Persian New Year (Nowruz) is upon us.  Today, March 20th, Persians will celebrate the New Year. Nowruz marks the first day of spring, the equinox, and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. Nowruz is celebrated by many different ethnic communities and religious backgrounds. Though it is a secular holiday, Zoroastrians hold it …

13
Mar

Breakfast Around the World

Experts say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Your first meal provides the nutrients and energy needed to start your day and function earlier in the morning. When traveling or moving abroad, it is important to realize that common breakfast foods in your host country may be greatly different than what …

4
Mar

Celebrating Spring in Slavic Cultures

While IHOP in the USA has national Pancake Day, people in Russia and the Ukraine celebrate a pancake week! Maslinitsa or Blini (Ма́сленица) are ultra-thin, slightly tart pancakes more akin to the French crepes or German blintz. The week-long pancake holiday, also known as Maslinitsa, is the oldest surviving Russian holiday. Evidence suggests it may …

19
Feb

Cricket World Cup 2015

Cricket is a widely popular sport mostly associated with the UK and countries that were at some point under British rule.  This year, the Cricket World Cup includes some unlikely teams.  Afghanistan for one, a team made up of Afghanis and Pakistanis, made its debut onto the world stage this year.  While their fight is …

13
Feb

Chinese New Year 2015

This year the Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival, begins on February 19th.  It is the longest celebration on the Chinese calendar, and many consider it to be the most important holiday in China. The belief behind the holiday is that people born on the corresponding years of animals will take on some …

4
Feb

Let the Good Times Roll: Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebrations

Colorful celebrations are about to begin!  All around the world, countries are preparing for Carnival or Mardi-Gras.  This period before Lent has turned into a spectacular event, with a week or month-long celebrations in some parts of the world.  Carnival refers to the period of feasting and fun that begins on January 6th, the Feast …

28
Jan

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

With “snowpocalypse” and snowstorm Juno wrapping up in the Northeastern US, people are finding creative uses for their snow. Many build snowmen or form ramps to go sledding, skiing, or snowboarding on, or simply use the snow as an extra cooler and place anything from meat to alcohol in the packed snow. Around the world, people …

22
Jan

Fasting Around the World

It is almost February, which means that Mardi Gras is just around the corner!  After all the Mardi Gras festivities, the season of Lent will begin, and many around the world will adjust their normal diet for religious reasons.  During the season of Lent, Christians, specifically, Catholics, give up a certain food or practice fasting.  …

30
Dec

New Year’s Traditions in Russia

For many countries, the majority of winter holidays have passed, but this is not the case in Russia!  In fact, Russian New Year’s Eve trumps Christmas in importance, with significant celebrations occurring all over the country in recognition of the holiday.  There are actually two New Year’s holidays celebrated in Russia.  Russia’s “Old” New Year …

23
Dec

Holiday Traditions Around the World: Part 3 – Sweden

In our last installment of Holiday Traditions Around the World, we will uncover traditions of the St. Lucia holiday in Sweden.  We at Cultural Awareness International thank you for following this series and wish you and yours a very happy holiday season! St. Lucia’s Day in Sweden The Swedish Christmas season begins each year with …

17
Dec

Holiday Traditions Around the World: Part 2 – Ethiopia

Timkat in Ethiopia Each January, the remote city of Gondar is inundated with pilgrims during the religious festival of Timkat, the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Epiphany. One of the most important holidays of the year, Timkat is a two-day festival beginning on January 19th that celebrates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. On …

10
Dec

Holiday Traditions Around the World: Part 1 – Peru

Join Cultural Awareness International for this three-part series as we explore holiday traditions around the world . . . Christmas in Peru Christmas traditions in Peru date back to 1535.  The holiday has a long history in the country as the majority of the population practices Catholicism.  December 24th is La Noche Buena, or “Good …

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