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10
Jun

Ramadan: Appealing to the Children

Ramadan –the holy month of Islam – has begun. During this time, Muslims across the world will fast from food and drink from the time the sun rises to the time the sun sets to show devotion and understand sacrifice. But in the West, Ramadan has largely been a cultural mystery.  Unlike Christmas or Easter, …

13
Apr

Songkran: Buddha’s New Year

Songkran – Thailand’s answer to the New Year – is celebrated with laughs, color, and a lot of water.  Based off the Buddhist and Hindu calendar, April 13th to the 15th marks a new period for everyone. Depending on where you are in Thailand, they may celebrate it a little bit differently. For example, the …

18
Mar

Weddings Around the World: Africa

Now it’s time to explore the world’s second largest and second-most-populated continent: Africa. In many parts of the continent,  African weddings are an event that simply can’t be missed. Let’s take a look at a few! Nigerians love to celebrate such an important day, and this is seen the most in the fact that they have …

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 …

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 …

6
Aug

Singapore Turns 50

Singapore is 50 years old! In just 50 years, this city-state has gone from swamp land to skyscrapers, and its booming economic structure has created one of the world’s wealthiest populations. In such a short time, and without having natural resources, Singapore has become a worldwide business center that has brought many expats into the …

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 …

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
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 …

22
Oct

Calaveras and Marigolds: Celebrating Dia de los Muertos

Día de los Muertos, the Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ holiday is celebrated annually from October 31st to November 2nd. During the 3-day-long festivities, family members celebrate loved ones who have passed away by bringing sugar skulls (Calaveras), marigolds as well as photographs to decorate family members’ graves with. Marigolds are used in these rituals …

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