July 1: It’s time to celebrate Canada Day!

Canada Day, in French Fête du Canada, is a federal statutory holiday celebrating Canadian Confederation. Originally called “Dominion Day”, the holiday commemorates the unification of the three North American British colonies, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the Province of Canada (which at the time consisted of Ontario and Quebec). Historically, it was on July 1, 1867 when the British North America Act formally joined the colonies, creating the unified, semi-independent Dominion of Canada and, basically, Canada became a self-governing dominion of Great Britain. The enactment of the British North America…

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March 4: feast of Rhiannon, Welsh Goddess

In Ireland and Wales, the annual Feast of Rhiannon is celebrated by some still today in honor of the Celtic/Welsh Mother Goddess Rhiannon. Rhiannon was originally known as Rigatona (or the Great Queen) and was identified with continental Celtic horse-goddess Epona, a protector of horses, ponies, donkeys, and mules, but particularly a goddess of fertility. In ancient Greece the annual rite called the Anthesteria was held to honor the Keres (souls of the dead), a ritual lasted for three days. Rhiannon is a Welsh underworld Goddess. Her origin is very…

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Imbolc: the ancient Celtic festival of February

Imbolc is a holiday with a variety of names, depending on which culture and location you’re looking at. For istance, in the Irish Gaelic, it’s called Oimelc, which translates literally to “ewe’s milk”. Not by chance, the earliest mentions of Imbolc in Irish literature date back to the 10th century, with poetry from that time who related the holiday to ewe’s milk, as implication of purification. It’s been speculated that this stems from the breeding cycle of sheep and the beginning of lactation, and the holiday was traditionally aligned with…

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Gummatapura: the Indian village that ends Diwali with massive cow dung battle

The small Indian village of Gummatapura is famous all over the world for its unique way of ending the annual Diwali celebrations: a massive cow dung battle called “Gorehabba”. If Spain has La Tomatina, a famous battle with tomatoes, and Italy has the traditional Battle of Oranges during popular Ivrea’s Carnival, India has Gorehabba, a cow dung battle to end the important Diwali festivities. Diwali is literally the Festival of Lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. Diwali, which for some also coincides with harvest…

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Io, Saturnalia!

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, whatever your holiday, most of the December holiday traditions that we celebrate today can be traced back to the Ancient Roman holiday of Saturnalia (with a healthy dose of inspiration from the Vikings). From tree decorations, wreaths, ornaments, boughs of holly, carolling, gift-giving, and even gingerbread men, most of what we identify as Christmas has roots going back thousands of years. When it comes to celebrations, parties, and downright debauchery, probably no one beats the folks of ancient Rome. And, in this period, around the time of…

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Why one Australian Island celebrates thanksgiving

Norfolk Island is tiny, both in size and population. It is an Australian territory hundreds of miles from the mainland, that hosts fewer than 2,000 inhabitants. It has nice blue waters, unique flora, including famed Norfolk pine also displayed on their flag, and a curious story about its origin: the island was in fact populated by the descendants of mutineers from the British ship HMS Bounty. The British mutineers and several captive Tahitians had fled to nearby Pitcairn Island in 1790, and by 1856, their descendants moved there, to the…

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12 Ways Halloween is celebrated around the globe

In America, people associate Halloween with pumpkins, costumes, candy, and spooky stories or ghosts but, around the world, it could be a little different. The holiday might look slightly different this year since we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, but we can reminisce on years past. If most places in the U.S. celebrate Halloween in much the same way, one city that stands apart is New Orleans. This town loves both to party and voodoo, so one can find things here they couldn’t anywhere else, from…

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Costumes, dancing, and food: Malanka is Ukraine’s biggest party

In Ukraine, Malanka is much more than a party: it’s one of the oldest, happiest, most vibrant days of the year in local culture. It is a folk holiday celebrated on January 13th, which is New Year’s Eve in accordance with the Julian calendar, caps off the festivities of the Christmas holidays, and is often the last opportunity for partying before the solemn period of Lent which precedes Easter. By nightfall people, dressed in elaborate homemade costumes depicting bears, gypsies, goats, and nurses, will parade from house to house singing…

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The flight of the Angel: a centuries-old tradition that officially opens the Venice Carnival.

“Il Volo dell’Angelo” (the flight of the angel), which took place today in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, is considered the opening ritual of the Venice Carnival, a celebration famous all over the world. This is a tradition born in an edition of the Carnival in the mid-sixteenth century, when an extraordinary event took place: a young Turkish acrobat managed, with the only help of a barbell, to reach the San Marco bell tower walking, in the din of the crowd below in delirium, over a…

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