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14 May 2008

12 Holidays Around the World That are Nice to Know 1


While there are holidays that are celebrated by most countries around the world, there are also holidays that are exclusively celebrated in one country that are not well-known to others. It may be nice for us to know some of these holidays that may not be recognized and celebrated in our own country.

I have provided brief descriptions of twelve holidays from around the world, one holiday for each month of the year, each celebrated only in its country of origin. Just in case you plan to travel all over the globe, here are some celebrations you can look forward to. This first part of my article includes holidays celebrated in the first half of the year.

  1. Pongal - India

    In January, to honor the sun and the rain that ripen the rice crops, southern India celebrates this great harvest festival where families cook the new rice in milk and wait for it to bubble. As soon as it does, they shout, “Pongal!” (“It boils!”). They offer some of the sweet rice to Surya the Sun God before they taste it themselves as they dance. On the second day they honor the rain, and on the third day they honor the cattle. In some areas, farmers attach rupees to the horns of the fiercest bulls and decorate their cows with flowers. Those who are brave enough try to grab away the money from the bulls.
  2. Argungu Fishing Festival - Nigeria

    In February, the Kebbawa people in Argungu, northwestern Nigeria, celebrate the beginning of the fishing season with a New Year's festival. Along the banks of the Sokoto river thousands of people carrying calabash dippers and butterfly fishing nets gather. At a signal everyone jumps into the river together to startle the fish and send them leaping into the nets. A prize awaits for whoever catches the largest fish.
  3. Hina Matsuri - Japan

    In March, the Japanese commemorate their old tradition of rubbing paper dolls on their bodies to draw out evil spirits, then throwing the dolls into a river. In the 1700s they began to make the dolls out of clay and many people liked the clay dolls too much that they could not throw them away. Mothers saved the dolls for their daughters and now, on “Doll Festival,” their daughters display a set of 15 dolls on stands covered with red cloth. Girls visit each other to admire their displays, each of which is a set creating a beautifully dressed royal court, with an emperor, his wife, and their attendants.
  4. Ra-Ra - Haiti

    In April, every day between Palm Sunday and Easter, groups of people-the Ra-Ra-come down from the hills to dance for money. Each dancer wears a red shirt and carries a red flag. Some are carrying kerosene lamps, some are cracking whips, some are beating drums. As soon as the crowd sees the group's leader who is dressed like a jester and is twirling a long baton, the cry “Ra-Ra!” The Ra-Ra dance celebrates spring but also mourns the death of Jesus Christ. Throughout the three days before Easter the Ra-Ra dance intensely then stops on Easter Sunday.
  5. Maytime Fairies - Ireland

    In May, the Irish remembers the time when fairies would appear during their Maytime revels and casts mists over travelers and displace familiar landmarks. The Irish stayed close to home to avoid trouble. If they needed to travel, they wore their coats inside out, which they believe could confuse the fairies. Families also watched over their children closely because fairies were known to abduct them. As a precaution, people in some parts of Ireland leave bits of food and drink on a doorstep, at a well, or at any place the fairies might cross.
  6. Tano - Korea

    In June, Koreans celebrate a spring festival which began in ancient times as a planting rite, and is now special for their children. Girls have swinging competitions while boys have wrestling matches. In advance, very tall swings are raised in each town so each girl will have a chance to practice. Many girls wear special dresses for the event. And in some areas, every participant must be able to ring a bell with her foot when she is high in the air. The girl with the most number of times to hit the bell wins a prize.
Socyberty 5/14/08 10:31 AM

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