November is one of my favorite months. It starts with our wedding anniversary and ends with one of my favorite holidays—filled with gorgeous fall colors, delicious food, and a slower-than-October pace of life in between.
Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away for Americans, but seeing as we have quite the international audience for this blog, I didn’t want to dedicate an entire Intellectual Grownup post only to Thanksgiving this month.
And since we had a heavy-hitting post last month, I thought it might be fun to have this month’s offering be a bit… lighter. I loved writing my 31 days series about places around the world, and in my research, I learned about a few remarkable holidays celebrated throughout the nooks and crannies of the globe.
So here you go—a look at fascinating festivities around the world during November.
Diwali: India (& more)
Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, held around October-November. It’s associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, and marks the beginning of the fiscal year in India. For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated by most families throughout the country.
Diwali is also an official holiday in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji, and it’s also celebrated by many pockets of people throughout the world.
Melbourne Cup Day: Victoria, Australia
I’ve gotten to know more Aussies lately, so my Facebook feed was sprinkled this week with pics of women in outrageous hats. On the first Tuesday in November , the “race that stops a nation” is a 3,200 meter horse race for thoroughbreds three years old and older.
‘Fashions On The Field’ is a major focus of the day, with substantial prizes awarded for the best-dressed man and woman. Most noticed are the requirements for elegant hats, and more recently the alternative of a “fascinator” (I had to ask Darren Rowse’s wife what on earth that was). Raceday fashion has occasionally drawn almost as much attention as the race itself.
All Saint’s Day: Globally throughout the Christian Church
Also known as The Feast of All Saints, this holiday is celebrated on November 1 by parts of the Western Church (and on the first Sunday following Pentecost in the Eastern Church). With the broad definition of “honoring all saints, known an unknown,” customs for this holiday are as varied as the Church itself.
For example, in Portugal, children celebrate the tradition by going door-to-door, where they receive cakes, nuts and pomegranates. In many parts of Europe and the Americas, people light candles and visit the graves of deceased relatives.
In English-speaking countries, All Saint’s is often traditionally celebrated with the hymn “For All the Saints” by Walsham How.
Loi Krathong & Yi Peng: Thailand
Loi Krathong is a festival celebrated annually throughout Thailand and certain parts of Laos and Burma. The name comes from the tradition of making buoyant decorations which are then floated on a river—traditional krathong are made from a slice of the trunk of a banana tree or a spider lily plant.
Thai Buddhists use this holiday to honor Buddha, Prince Siddhartha Gautama, where the candle venerates the Buddha with light, while the krathong’s floating symbolizes letting go of hatred, anger, and defilements. People sometime cut their fingernails or hair and placed the clippings on the krathong as a symbol of letting go of negative thoughts.
Also known as “Lantern Festival,” Yi Peng typically falls around the same time as Loi Krathong, so these two holidays are often celebrated together. A multitude of sky lanterns are launched into the air, resembling large flocks of giant fluorescent jellyfish gracefully floating through the sky.
Remembrance Day: Global
Around the world, people stop to recognize Remembrance Day on November 11th. This day, also known as Poppy Day, Armstice Day, or Veterans day (depending on your country), is recognized globally to honor those who lost their lives during World War I (and in certain countries, such as the U.S., this has expanded to include all veterans).
Remembrance Day is held on November 11 because the war ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in the year 1918. Countries observing the holiday include Australia, Bermuda, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Canada, and the U.S.
So now it’s your turn—I’d love for you to comment below (head here, if you’re reading via RSS or email) and share two things: 1. Where you’re from, and 2. What’s your favorite holiday this time of year? I love learning about cultures and their festivities, and I love hearing where this community lives! Tell us about your homeland.