Now that we have embarked upon the “ber” months (September, October, November, December), we also tend to focus on various celebrations. These celebrations could be cultural, religious, historical, or civic in nature, focusing on changing seasons or a date on the calendar. Many times, they are varied combinations of those things. (i.e., cultural and seasonal, cultural and religious, religious and historical) Here in the United States, the “ber” month celebrations typically start with Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Chuseok, or Hangawi (which means the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar or mid-autumn) is also known as the Korean Thanksgiving. It is one of the biggest holidays in Korea. It is celebrated for three days in South Korea and one day in North Korea. The focus of the holiday is on celebrating a bountiful harvest with family and food. Families travel to their ancestral homes and share traditional foods like songpyeon (small rice cakes), hangwa (traditional Korean confections), Asian Pear, Hallabong oranges and sindoju (rice wine). September 9-12, 2022.
Rosh Hashanah, literally translated in Hebrew as “head of the year,” is considered the Jewish New Year. It is marked by the blowing of the shofar beginning the ten days of penitence, culminating in Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). It is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days. Traditions of Rosh Hashana include candle-lighting, blessings and prayers, and festive meals with symbolic foods (challah bread, apple slices dipped in honey and pomegranate) September 25-27, 2022.
Dia de Los Muertos, also known as The Day of the Dead, originated in Mexico to celebrate death and life. It is a two-day celebration where it is believed that the passageway between the real world and the spirit world is open so our deceased loved ones can come back to visit us. It is celebrated joyfully with colorful costumes, flowers, and festive music. Traditions include decorating burial sites, creating altars to deceased family members, sugar skulls, and preparing traditional Day of the Dead foods. November 1-2, 2022
Malanka is a Ukrainian and Belarusian folk holiday which is celebrated on January 13th and is also known as the Ukrainian New Year. The ancestors of Ukrainians believed that on New Year’s Eve, good and evil spirits descended on the earth. To ward off the evil forces and ensure a bountiful new year, the night was spent in dancing, masquerade plays, partaking of a lavish and ritualistic meal, fortune telling, courting, casting of spells and singing carols of well wishes called Shchedrivky. January 13, 2023.
Oktober Fest, an annual festival celebrated in Munich, Germany, is held over two weeks ending on the first Sunday in October. It originated as a festival to celebrate the marriage of the crown prince of Bavaria in 1810. It is now celebrated in many other locations. Festivals include beer, traditional German foods, music, and dress (lederhosen and dirndl). September 17 – October 3, 2022.
St. Lucia’s Day, also called the Feast of St. Lucy is a Christian Feast Day celebrated on December 13th (close to the winter solstice). According to legend, Lucia of Syracuse brought food and aid to Christians hiding in the Roman catacombs, wearing a candle lit wreath on her head to light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible. St Lucia’s Day first became widely celebrated in Sweden in the late 1700s. St Lucia’s Day is also celebrated in Denmark, Norway, Finland, Bosnia, and Croatia. It is considered a festival of light during the long, dark winter. December 13, 2022.
Yi Peng Lantern Festival (Thailand) is an ancient festive event tracing back to the ancient Lanna Kingdom (in the late 13th Century) and deeply rooted in Buddhism. It was traditionally celebrated to mark the end of the monsoon season and the beginning of the cool season. It is also celebrated to release negative energy and wish for good luck and good fortune in the coming year. To celebrate, lanterns are released into the air. People also decorate their houses, gardens, and temples with khom fai, intricately shaped paper lanterns that take on different forms. November 8-9, 2022.
Diwali (or Depawali) is India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year – a time to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and good over evil. The festival gets its name from the row (avali) of clay lamps (deepa) that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects from spiritual darkness. It is a 5-day festival of lights, celebrated with prayer, feasts, fireworks and for some, a new year. During Diwali, people perform cleansing rituals, decorate their homes, gather for special feasts, exchange gifts and light fireworks. October 22-26, 2022.
Kwanzaa is an annual celebration of African American culture from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a communal feast called Karamu, usually on the sixth day. It was created by activist Maulana Karenga, based on African harvest festival traditions from various parts of West and Southeast Africa. Kwanzaa was first celebrated in 1966. The seven candles of the kinara symbolize the seven principals of Kwanzaa (unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith). December 26, 2022 – January 1, 2023.