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Cross-Cultural Celebrations Calendar

January

Second Monday in January

Coming of Age Day in Japan

The day honors young Japanese who will reach the age of 20 at any point during the year. Twenty is the age of majority in Japan, and people who have reached this age gain the right to vote in elections as well as to drink.

Local governments usually have a ceremony known as a seijin shiki (adult ceremony) to honor the "new adults". The ceremony is held in the morning and all of the young peopke who live in the area are invited to attend. Government officials give speeches, and small gifts are handed out to the new adults.

Women celebrate the day by donning special kimonos in which the sleeves are long as compared to the kimono with shorter sleeve portions worn by mature, married women. Some women will also wear hakama (baggy pants).

Most young woman cannot put on a kimono themselves, and have to go to a kimono kitsuke who dresses them. They also go to a hairdressers to have their hair done the day before or early in the morning. Many women rent their kimonos because of the cost of buying one.

Most young men wear business suits, although sometimes men wearing dark-colored kimonos can be seen. Certainly, It is much less expensive day for the young men than the women.

Source: www.officeholidays.com/countries/japan/coming_of_age_day.php


Third Sunday in January

World Religion Day

World Religion Day was founded in 1950 by the Bahá'ís of the United States, and since has spread worldwide, becoming an officially recognized event by many municipal governments and officials. It has since incorporated speakers and performers from the majority of the worlds religions and cultural backgrounds, and events are organized yearly by a coordinated effort from members of all religions. 

The aim World Religion Day is to foster the establishment of interfaith understanding and harmony amongst all religions. World Religion Day seeks to promote understanding and dialogue between the followers of all religions, to call attention to the common foundation of their spiritual principles, and to emphasize that "Religion must be the cause of unity". The day is observed with gatherings in homes, public meetings and events, campus activities, and panel discussions.

To learn more about the Bahai'i faith visit www.bahai.org

Check out bostonbahais.org  to learn more about the Boston Bahai'i community

Source: www.bahai-ottawa.org/world_religion_day_2014.html

Third Monday in January

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Each year on the third Monday of January, America honors the birth, life and dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is a time to remember the injustices that Dr. King fought. A time to remember his fight for the freedom, equality, and dignity of all races and peoples through nonviolence. Martin Luther King was an important civil rights activist and a leader in the movement to end racial segregation in the United States. 

Dr. King is widely regarded as America's pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence and one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history. Drawing inspiration from both his Christian faith and the peaceful teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. King led a nonviolent movement in the late 1950's and '60s to achieve legal equality for African-Americans in the United States. While others were advocating for freedom by "any means necessary," including violence, Martin Luther King, Jr. used the power of words and acts of nonviolent resistance, such as protests, grassroots organizing, and civil disobedience to achieve seemingly impossible goals. He went on to lead similar campaigns against poverty and international conflict, always maintaining fidelity to his principles that men and women everywhere, regardless of color or creed, are equal members of the human family.

At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr. was the youngest male and the third Black man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' speech is among the most acclaimed in U.S. history, and his soaring close "to let freedom ring" still resonates today and inspires those who are moved by his dream. Explore the dreams of others inspired by the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at www.thekingcenter.org/dreams

Check out www.thekingcenter.org to learn more about The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, the first institution built in memory of an African American leader.

I Have a Dream Speech www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm

Source: www.officeholidays.com/countries/usa/mlk.php


January 27th

International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

The Holocaust, or Shoah is the term used to describe the deliberate murder and desecration of millions of people prior to and during World War II in Germany and German occupied areas in Europe. Many of them were Jewish but the Roma people, Soviet civilians and prisoners of war, ethnic Poles, people with disabilities, homosexuals and political and religious opponents were also killed. Many people died in concentration and death camps spread across Nazi-occupied Europe. One of the most notorious camps was Auschwitz-Birkenau, near O?wi?cim, Poland. More than one million people died in Auschwitz-Birkenau before Soviet troops liberated it on January 27, 1945.

A UN resolution was drafted to designate January 27 as the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. The resolution called for education programs on the Holocaust to help prevent genocide. It also rejected denials that the Holocaust occurred.

On January 27 each year, this global observance commemorates those affected by the Holocaust during World War II. The day also commemorates when the Soviet troops liberated the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland on January 27, 1945. 

Check out www.ushmm.org for information about events and online exhibits at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Source: www.timeanddate.com/holidays/un/commemoration-of-holocaust-victims

February


February 8th

Parinirvana- Nirvana Day (Buddhist)

Observed by many Mahayana Buddhists, Parinirvana celebrates the day in which Buddha achieved complete Nirvana, upon the physical death of his body. It is an important day to think about one's own future death. Observances can include reading from the Nirvana Sutra, meditation, or visits to the Buddhist temples and monasteries. 


February 14th

St. Valentine's Day (Christian)

Who is St. Valentine? One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. 

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first "valentine" greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl--possibly his jailor's daughter--who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed "From your Valentine," an expression that is still in use today.

Check out more on the origins of Valentine's Day and traditions!


February 19th

Day of Remembrance (For incarcerated Japanese Americans of WWII)

February 19th is a day of commemorating the Japanese American internment during World War II. The day takes significance as the date that Executive Order 9066 was signed, requiring internment of all U.S. residents of Japanese ancestry. Over 110,000 people of Japanese heritage were forced to live in "War Relocation Camps" as a reaction to Imperial Japan's attach on Pearl Harbor in which they suffered extensively for two years. 


February 20th

United Nations World Day of Social Justice

Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, or disability.

"As we seek to build the world we want, let us intensify our efforts to achieve a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable development path build on dialogue, transparency, and social justice." – United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon


February 21st

International Mother Language Day

This 21 February 2014 marks the fifteenth International Mother Language Day to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The day was established in 1999 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the day has been celebrated across the globe since February 2000. 

International Mother Language Day aims to promote linguistic and cultural diversity, as well as multilingualism. On the day, the International Symposium on Translation and Cultural Mediation will be held to discuss preserving and developing our heritage and spreading awareness of our mother tongues in order to encourage diversity and even inspire us to take up learning a new language!


February 24th

Estonia Independence Day

On 24 February 1918, Estonia issued a declaration of independence from the new Soviet Russia, which was followed by a war with the Soviets to maintain Estonian liberty. On 2 February 1920, the war ended with the Tartu Peace Treaty which guaranteed Estonia's independence for all time. The Soviets went on to break this pact, however, and Estonia was under Soviet control for 75 years. Estonians celebrate their Independence Day with a parade, church services, speeches, and concerts in the capital city, Tallinn


February 28th

Taiwan Peace Memorial Day

On this day we commemorate the 228 Incident or 228 Massacre in which more than ten thousands of Taiwanese were killed while thousands others were imprisoned on 28 February 1947. This incident caused uproar among the citizens who were fed up with the corruption of the government that many people should depend on black market items to make living. On the next day, people gathered outside the police station to express their opposition of the incident. Feeling pressured by the act, the officers fired upon the mass. The situation became worse when groups of soldiers arrived from mainland China and started firing people at random. Although there is no evidence, many people believe that about 10,000 until 30,000 people were died at that time.


228 Massacre became forbidden topic in Taiwan for several decades. Only in 1995, President Lee Tung Hui touched the topic and apologized to every family member of the victims on behalf of the government. The date of 228 Incident was then acknowledged as a public holiday while monuments were built and Taipei New Park was renamed with 228 Memorial Park as a commemoration of the incident.


Month of February

Black History Month

Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The event grew out of "Negro History Week," the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. 

The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent. Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. 

At mid–century, mayors of cities nationwide issued proclamations noting Negro History Week. The Black Awakening of the 1960s dramatically expanded the consciousness of African Americans about the importance of black history, and the Civil Rights movement focused Americans of all color on the subject of the contributions of African Americans to our history and culture. President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."

Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. On January 31, President Obama proclaimed, once more, February as African American History Month This year the theme "Civil Rights in America", affirms that we celebrate historic achievements and persons, well-known and unknown, who fought to secure rights long denied. But as we hail our successes as a nation, we must also acknowledge that there is more work to be done.

Sourced from: www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/about.html

Online Collections of African Americans in Culture, Politics, Military, Performance Arts and much more! http://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/collections.html

David Gilmore: WWII Veteran recalls fighting for his country and not being able to come back home www.history.com/topics/black-history-month/videos#david-gilmore

Civil Rights Act of 1964 www.history.com/topics/black-history-month/videos#civil-rights-act-of-1964

Rosa Parks wasn't the first to refuse bus segregation www.history.com/topics/black-history-month/videos#bet-you-didnt-know-rosa-parks

Jackie Robinson Shatters the Tradition of Segregation in Major League Baseball www.history.com/topics/black-history-month/videos#jackie-robinson-breaks-barriers

Separate But Not Equal www.history.com/topics/black-history-month/videos#separate-but-not-equal

African American Writers, Artists, and Intellectuals of the Harlem Renaissance www.history.com/topics/black-history-month/videos#the-harlem-renaissance


March

March 4th

Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras

A Christian holiday and popular cultural phenomenon, Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to pagan spring and fertility rites. Also known as Carnival, it is celebrated in many countries around the world. According to historians, Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility. When Christianity arrived in Rome, religious leaders decided to incorporate these popular local traditions into the new faith, an easier task than abolishing them altogether.As a result, the excess and debauchery of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. 

Many historians believe that the first American Mardi Gras took place on March 3, 1699, when the French explorers Iberville and Bienville landed in what is now Louisiana, just south of New Orleans. They held a small celebration and dubbed the spot Point du Mardi Gras. Years later, New Orleans and other French settlements began marking the holiday with street parties, masked balls and lavish dinners. When the Spanish took control of New Orleans, however, they abolished these rituals, and the bans remained in force until Louisiana became a U.S. state in 1812.

On Mardi Gras in 1827, a group of students donned colorful costumes and danced through the streets of New Orleans, emulating the revelry they'd observed while visiting Paris. Ten years later, the first recorded New Orleans Mardi Gras parade took place, a tradition that continues to this day. In 1857, a secret society of New Orleans businessmen called the "Mistick Krewe of Comus" organized a torch-lit Mardi Gras procession with marching bands and rolling floats, setting the tone for future public celebrations in the city. Since then, krewes have remained a fixture of the Carnival scene throughout Louisiana. Other lasting customs include throwing beads and other trinkets, wearing masks, decorating floats and eating King Cake. 

Louisiana is the only state in which Mardi Gras is a legal holiday. However, elaborate carnival festivities draw crowds in other parts of the United States during the Mardi Gras season as well, including Alabama and Mississippi. Each region has its own events and traditions.

Top 10 Mardi Gras Traditions
Source: www.history.com/topics/holidays/mardi-gras


March 5th

Ash Wednesday; Lent Begins (Christian)

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent in the Western Christian calendar, directly following Shrove Tuesday. According to the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus Christ spent 40 days fasting in the desert, where he endured temptation by Satan. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of this 40-day liturgical period of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. 

Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes (formally called The Imposition of Ashes) on the foreheads of adherents as a celebration and reminder of human mortality, and as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. The ashes used are typically gathered from the burning of the palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday. Today, Ash Wednesday is observed by many Christian denominations, including Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Anglicans, and Presbyterians, among many others. 


March 8th

International Women's Day

Each year International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. The first International Women's Day was held in 1911. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Women's equality has made positive gains but the world is still unequal. International Women's Day celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing world attention on areas requiring further action. 

Inspiring Change is the 2014 theme. It calls for challenging the status quo for women's equality and vigilance inspiring positive change. The vast array of communication channels, supportive spokespeople, equality research, campaigns and corporate responsibility initiatives means everyone can be an advocate inspiring change for women's advancement. 

International Women's Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. 

With the 2015 deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) around the corner, International Women's Day is also an opportunity to review the challenges and achievements in the MDG implementation for women and girls, as the Commission on the Status of Women will be doing from 10 to 21 March 2014. 

Source: www.internationalwomensday.com


March 15th

Ram Navami

A Hindu festival, celebrating the birth of Lord Rama to King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. The holiday is celebrated on the ninth day of Chaitra month (the first month in the Hindu lunar calendar). It marks the culmination of the spring festival of Vasanta Navratri (Chaitra Navratri). Rama was the 7th incarnation of Vishnu. He was the hero of the Ramayana, the ancient Sanskrit epic.

A continuous recital of the book takes place during the month of Chaitra prior to the celebration. On Ram Navami itself, the highlights of the story are read in the temple. Houses are thoroughly cleaned on Rama Navami and a family shrine may be decorated with small statues of Rama. Offerings of flowers and fruit are placed on the shrine and prayers are recited after an early bath.

Source: www.officeholidays.com/countries/india/ram_navami.php


March 16th

Purim (Judaism)

Purim is celebrated with a public reading, usually in the synagogue, of the Book of Esther (Megillah Esther), which tells the story of the holiday. It is read aloud on Purim and tells the story of Esther, a Jewish Queen of Persia. She was married to the king of Persia, who was unaware of her religious background. Sometime around the year 357 BCE, the prime minister of Persia, Haman, and his wife plotted to kill all Jewish people in the Persian Empire. 

Esther heard of this plan and warned the king, risking her own safety. Haman and his sons were executed and the Jews were ordered to defend themselves against those who threatened them. This resulted in bloody battles, in which many people were killed. Purim celebrates the end of these battles.

Over the centuries, Haman became the embodiment of every anti-Semite in every land where Jews were oppressed. The significance of Purim lies in how it began, but also in what it has become: a thankful and joyous affirmation of Jewish survival against all odds.


March 17th

St. Patrick's Day (Christianity) 

What began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland has become an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods and a whole lot of green. 

It is known that St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. Although his father was a Christian deacon, it has been suggested that he probably took on the role because of tax incentives and there is no evidence that Patrick came from a particularly religious family. At the age of 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family's estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. Although many believe he was taken to live in Mount Slemish in County Antrim, it is more likely that he was held in County Mayo near Killala.) During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. (It is also believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity during his captivity.)


Hola Mohalla (Sikh) 

Hola Mahalla is a Sikh festival which begins on the first day of the lunar month of Chet in the Nanakshahi calendar Hola Mohalla is an annual Sikh festival, celebrated extensively over three days mainly at the Anandpur Sahib Gurudwara, in the state of Punjab. It is a martial fair that was introduced by Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, to fortify the Sikh community by carrying out martial training and mock-drills, along with religious discussions.

The event was originated by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru.The Guru was in the midst of fighting both Aurangzeb of the Mughal Empire and the Hill Rajputs, and had recently established the Khalsa Panth. On February 22, 1701, Guru Gobind Singh started a new tradition by overseeing a day of mock battles and poetry contests at Holgarh Fort. The tradition has since spread from the town of Anandpur Sahib to nearby Kiratpur Sahib and the foothills of the Shivaliks, and to other Gurdwaras around the world.


March 20th

Spring Equinox

The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning "equal night." At the equinoxes, the tilt of Earth relative to the Sun is zero, which means that Earth's axis neither points toward nor away from the Sun. On the equinox, night and day are nearly exactly the same length – 12 hours – all over the world. However, even if this is widely accepted, it isn't entirely true. In reality equinoxes don't have exactly 12 hours of daylight. 

The March equinox occurs the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth's equator – from south to north. This happens either on March 19, 20 or 21 every year. On any other day of the year, the Earth's axis tilts a little away from or towards the Sun.

In the northern hemisphere the March equinox marks the start of spring and has long been celebrated as a time of rebirth. Many cultures and religions celebrate or observe holidays and festivals around the March equinox, like the Easter and Passover.

Equinoxes, along with solstices, have been celebrated in cultures all over the world for as long as we have written history. One of the most famous ancient Spring equinox celebrations was the Mayan sacrificial ritual by the main pyramid in Chichen Itza, Mexico.

Spring Equinox Around the World: Traditions

International Day of Happiness

The General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution on July 12, 2012 proclaimed March 20th the International Day of Happiness recognizing the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives.

By designating a special day for happiness, the UN aims to focus world attention on the idea that economic growth must be inclusive, equitable, and balanced, such that it promotes sustainable development, and alleviates poverty. Additionally the UN acknowledges that in order to attain global happiness, economic development must be accompanied by social and environmental well being.

The initiative to declare a day of happiness came from Bhutan – a country whose citizens are considered to be some of the happiest people in the world. The Himalayan Kingdom has championed an alternative measure of national and societal prosperity, called the Gross National Happiness Index (GNH). The GNH rejects the sole use of economic and material wealth as an indicator of development, and instead adopts a more holistic outlook, where spiritual well being of citizens and communities is given as much importance as their material well being. 

"Happiness and Well-being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm"
Source www.timeanddate.com/holidays/un/happiness-day
Source www.un.org/en/events/happinessday/

Persian or Iranian New Year 

In harmony with the rebirth of nature, the Iranian New Year Celebration, or NowRuz (meaning the new day), always begins on the first day of spring. Nowruz ceremonies are symbolic representations of two ancient concepts -the End and the Rebirth; or Good and Evil. A few weeks before the New Year, Iranians clean and rearrange their homes. They make new clothes, bake pastries and germinate seeds as sign of renewal. The ceremonial cloth is set up in each household. Troubadours, referred to as Haji Firuz, disguise themselves with makeup and wear brightly colored outfits of satin. These Haji Firuz, singing and dancing, parade as a carnival through the streets with tambourines, kettle drums, and trumpets to spread good cheer and the news of the coming new year.

NowRuz Traditions
Source www.farsinet.com/norooz/


March 21st

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually. On this day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid "pass laws". Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination (resolution 2142 (XXI)).

In 1979, the General Assembly adopted a Programme of activities to be undertaken during the second half of the Decade for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination. On that occasion, the General Assembly decided that a week of solidarity with the people struggling against racism and racial discrimination, beginning on 21st of March, would be organized annually in all States.

Since then, the apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled. Racist laws and practices have been abolished in many countries, and an international framework for fighting racism, guided by the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has been built.

Racial and ethnic discrimination occur on a daily basis, hindering progress for millions of people around the world. Racism and intolerance can take various form, all of which can destroy lives and fracture communities. The struggle against racism is a matter of priority for the international community and is at the heart of the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The United Nations has been concerned with this issue since its foundation and the prohibition of racial discrimination is enshrined in all core international human rights instruments. It places obligations on States and tasks them with eradicating discrimination in the public and private spheres. The principle of equality also requires States to adopt special measures to eliminate conditions that cause or help to perpetuate racial discrimination.

World Poetry Day 

Poetry contributes to creative diversity, by questioning anew our use of words and things, our modes of perception and understanding of the world. Through its associations, its metaphors and its own grammar, poetic language is thus conceivably another facet of the dialogue among cultures. Diversity in dialogue, free flow of ideas by word, creativity and innovation. World Poetry Day is an invitation to reflect on the power of language and the full development of each person's creative abilities.

World Poetry Day aims to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities. Moreover, this day is meant to support a return to the oral tradition of poetry recitals, promote teaching poetry, restore a dialogue between poetry and the other arts, support small publishers and create an image of poetry in the media so that the art of poetry will no longer be considered an outdated form of art.


March 24th

International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade   

For over 400 years, more than 15 million men, women and children were the victims of the tragic transatlantic slave trade. Every year on March 25th, the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade offers the opportunity to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system. The International Day also aims at raising awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.

This year's theme, "Victory over Slavery: Haiti and Beyond" pays tribute to the fight against slavery in nations around the world. Haiti was the first nation to become independent as a result of the struggle of enslaved men and women led by Toussaint Louverture. 2014 marks 210 years since the Republic of Haiti was established on January 1, 1804. 

UNESCO Slave Route Project 

"Ignorance or concealment of major historical events constitutes an obstacle to mutual understanding, reconciliation and cooperation among peoples. UNESCO has thus decided to break the silence surrounding the slave trade and slavery that have affected all continents and have caused the great upheavals that have shaped our modern societies."

Source www.un.org/en/events/slaveryremembranceday/

March 31st

Ugadi (Hindu)

Ugadi, also known as Ougadi or Telugu New Year, is a Hindu festival celebrated in some Hindu majority countries such as India and Mauritius. The festival is celebrated around March every year to commemorate the day when Lord Brahma began his auspicious creation and the day when Krishna, the avatar of Lord Vishnu, died in 3101 BC. Usually, Ugadi is celebrated on between March and April. 

The word Ugadi is derived from "Yuga" (meaning beginning) and "Adi" (meaning era). According to Hindu beliefs, Ougadi was the day when Lord Brahma created the universe and its whole content. It is also believed that Krishna, the complete incarnation of Hindu God, Vishnu, died on Ougadi in 3101 BC. 

People celebrate Ugadi by visiting their families, relatives, or neighbors and have lunch or dinner together. Therefore, there is a tradition to clean the house and buy new clothes before celebrating Ugadi. In this case, both people and the houses will be in their best state when the relatives and neighbors come to visit.

During Ougadi, people also take a ritual bath, pray for good health and good luck, as well as decorate the house with mango leaves and rangolis in the hope that they will get a better life in the upcoming year. In the evening, people also visit the temples to attend religious gatherings and listen to the predictions for the coming year.

César Chåvez Day 

Cesar E. Chavez National Holiday was established by Los Angeles volunteers who organized and led the effort in California that won Cesar Chavez Day, the first legal state holiday and day of service and learning in honor of farm worker leader Cesar E. Chavez.

César Chávez was born on March 31 in 1927. He was a migrant farm worker from the age of 10. He became active with the Community Service Organization, which helped fight racial and economic discrimination against Chicano residents. 

Dr Chávez co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in the early 1960s. He focused attention on the plight of migrant farm workers and gained support to have his organization be the first successful farm workers' union in the United States. He used principles of non-violence, with strikes and boycotts. Dr Chávez remained president of United Farm Workers of America (AFL-CIO) until his death on April 23, 1993. 

Cesar Chavez gave our nation and each of us a unique example to live our lives by. His selfless dedication for farm worker and worker rights, economic justice, civil rights, environmental justice, peace, nonviolence, empowerment of the poor and disenfranchised, is a monumental legacy that will inspire all and the generations to come.

"There's no turning back...We will win. We are winning because ours is a revolution of mind and heart."....

Cesar E. Chavez, the Farm Worker Leader, honored with a California Legal Holiday
Source www.cesarchavezholiday.org
Source www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/cesar-chavez-day


April

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

During the month of April, in honor of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, people across the country come together to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect prevention. National Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families.

2014 Resource Prevention Guide
Resources: 
www.childwelfare.gov/preventing/preventionmonth/
www.preventchildabuse.org/index.php


April 2nd

World Autism Awareness Day

The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day (A/RES/62/139) to highlight the need to help improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from the disorder so they can lead full and meaningful lives.


April 7th

20th Commemoration of the Rwanda Genocide

The start date of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, 7 April, has been designated by the UN General Assembly as the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda. On or around that date, the UN is organizing or participating in commemorative events in many countries this year, including in Armenia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Colombia, Congo, Czech Republic, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.

A brief history of the conflict in Rwanda
Rwanda: 20 Years Later
7 Billion Others Project


April 6th

National Tartan Day 

National Tartan Day is a US observance on April 6 each year. It commemorates the Scottish Declaration of Independence. It also recognizes achievements of Americans of Scottish descent.


April 11th

National Day of Silence

April 11, 2014 is the National Day of Silence, a student-led action sponsored by Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network's (GLSEN) in which thousands of students around the country will remain silent for all or part of the school day to call attention to the harassment and discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.

Founded in 1996, the Day of Silence has become the largest single student-led action towards creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

4 truths that address common misinformation about the Day of Silence.
The Freedom to Speak or Not: FAQs
Source: www.dayofsilence.org


April 14th-22nd

Passover

One of the Jewish religion's most sacred and widely observed holidays, Passover (Hebrew: Pesach) commemorates the story of the Israelites' departure from ancient Egypt, which appears in the Hebrew Bible's books of Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, among other texts. Jews observe the weeklong festival with a number of important rituals, including traditional Passover meals known as seders, the removal of leavened products from their home, the substitution of matzo for bread and the retelling of the exodus tale.

History of Passover
Source: www.history.com/topics/holidays/passover


April 20th

Easter Sunday

Easter, a Christian  holiday, celebrates Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead. Christian churches in the West celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox on March 21st. Therefore, Easter is observed anywhere between March 22 and April 25 every year. Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday, is a time of reflection and penance and represents the 40 days that Jesus spent alone in the wilderness before starting his ministry, a time in which Christians believe he survived various temptations by the devil. The week preceding Easter is called Holy Week and includes Maundy Thursday, which commemorates Jesus' last supper with his disciples; Good Friday, which honors the day of his crucifixion; and Holy Saturday, which focuses on the transition between the crucifixion and resurrection. The 50-day period following Easter Sunday is called Eastertide and includes a celebration of Jesus' ascension into heaven.

Source: www.history.com/topics/holidays/history-of-easter


April 22nd

Earth Day

Every year on April 22, over a billion people in 190 countries take action for Earth Day. Like Earth Days of the past, Earth Day 2014 will focus on the unique environmental challenges of our time as the need to create sustainable communities is more important than ever. Earth Day 2014 will seek to do just that through its global theme: Green Cities. With smart investments in sustainable technology, forward-thinking public policy, and an educated and active public, we can transform our cities and forge a sustainable future.

The Green Cities Campaign helps cities and communities around the world accelerate their transition to a more sustainable future.


April 25th

World Malaria Day

Since 2000, malaria mortality rates have fallen by more than 25%, and 50 of the 99 countries with ongoing transmission are now on track to meet the 2015 World Health Assembly target of reducing incidence rates by more than 75%. But we are not there yet. Malaria still kills an estimated 660 000 people worldwide, mainly children under five years of age in sub-Saharan Africa. Every year, more than 200 million cases occur; most of these cases are never tested or registered.

World Malaria Day will be celebrated on 25 April 2013. The global campaign theme for 2013 and the coming years is Invest in the future. Defeat malaria. World Malaria Day is an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control.

Facts on Malaria


April 29th

Ninth Day of Ridvan

In the Baha'i faith,  the twelve-day period between April 21st and May 2nd marks the holiest and happiest festival of the year, called Ridvan (pronounced Rez-wan). These Baha'i Holy Days, which celebrate the beginning of the Baha'i Faith in 1863, also recognize a period of great turmoil in Baha'i history and signify the transformation of suffering and oppression into joy.

Baha'is observe and celebrate those holidays by abstaining from work and taking part in gatherings, observances, parties and picnics. These occasions, often characterized by reflection, prayer and reading from the Baha'i writings, remind Baha'is that devotion to a noble cause dedicated to the service of humanity can bring us great and lasting happiness.

This symbol – the reunification and strength of the bond of family, and by extension the unity of the entire human family – permeates the meaning of the ninth day of Ridvan.

History of the 9th Day of Rivdan


April 30th

International Jazz Day

In November 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially designated April 30 as International Jazz Day in order to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe. International Jazz Day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about jazz and its roots; promote intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding; and reinforce international cooperation and communication.

On this day, this international art form is recognized for promoting diversity and respect for human rights and human dignity; eradicating discrimination; promoting freedom of expression; fostering gender equality; and reinforcing the role of youth in enacting social change. International Jazz Day is the culmination of Jazz Appreciation Month, which draws public attention to jazz and its heritage throughout the month of April.

May

Asian-Pacific Heritage Month

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month - a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. A rather broad term, Asian-Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).

The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

This year, the theme "I Am Beyond" is intended to capture the aspirations of the American spirit and how Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent have always sought to excel beyond the challenges that have limited equal opportunity in America. You can share your unique story using #IAMBEYOND on social media.

Check it out!
asianpacificheritage.gov
Presidential Proclamation on Asian-Pacific Heritage Month


May 3rd

World Press Freedom Day

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO's General Conference. Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights states that everyone "has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to see, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." World Press Freedom Day is celebrated on May 3rd, the date on which the Windhoek Declaration was adopted which emphasized the need of a free press for developing and maintaining democracy and for economic development. It is an opportunity to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, assess the state of press freedom throughout the world, defend the media from attacks on their independence, and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Check out 30 Days for Freedom, a project that profiles the plight of 30 journalists currently imprisoned for their work.


May 5th

Cinco De Mayo

Not Mexico's Independence Day, as is commonly thought, this festival celebrates the victory of the Mexican army over the French at the battle of Puebla. The French loss forced them to withdraw support for the Confederate Army (then embroiled in the American Civil War), contributing to the victory of the Union troops.

For more on the History Of Cinco De Mayo: Battle Of Puebla.


May 13th

Day of Vesak

"Vesak", the Day of the Full Moon in the month of May. It represents the birth, the Nirvana (enlightenment) and the Parinirvana (death) of Gautama Buddha and is the most significant day of the Buddhist calendar. The Day of Vesak acknowledges the contribution that Buddhism, one of the oldest religions in the world, has made for over two and a half millennia and continues to make to the spirituality of humanity.

"From the Buddhist point of view, therefore, the purpose of life is to put an end to suffering and to realize peace and real happiness" - Read more about the significance of Vesak


May 20th

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue & Development

This day provides us with an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to learn to live together better.

On 5 May 2014, the UN General Assembly held a day-long debate on culture and sustainable development. Speakers underscored how culture, in its manifold expressions ranging from cultural heritage to creative industries, from sustainable tourism to cultural infrastructure, drives and enables the social, environmental and economic pillars of sustainable development.

In 2011, a grassroots campaign 'Do One Thing For Diversity and Inclusion', was launched by UNESCO and the UN Alliance of Civilizations. By encouraging people and organizations from around the world to take concrete action to support diversity, the campaign aims to:  -Raise awareness worldwide about the importance of intercultural dialogue, diversity and inclusion.

To build a world community of individuals committed to support diversity with real and every day-life gestures. -To combat polarization and stereotypes to improve understanding and cooperation among people from different cultures.

Visit their facebook page
Source: www.un.org/en/events/culturaldiversityday


May 31 through June 2nd

Dragon Boat Holiday

The festival occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month on the Chinese lunar calendar. Many believe that the Dragon Boat Festival originated in ancient China. Legend has it that the holiday honors the tragic death of Qu Yuan, who died in 288 BC.

At the time of Warring States, Qu Yuan was the minister of the state. The King was captured during fighting and in honor and remembrance of the old King, Chu Yuan wrote a poem called "Li Soa." This angered the new King. Qu Yuan's wisdom and intellectual ways antagonized other court officials, thus they accused him of false charges of conspiracy and was exiled by the king.

During his exile, Qu Yuan composed many poems to express his anger and sorrow towards his sovereign and people. Instead of leaving his beloved country, Qu Yuan attached a heavy stone to his chest and threw himself into the Mi-Lo River, at the age of 61.

The people of Chu tried to save him believing that Qu Yuan was an honorable man; they searched desperately in their boats looking for Qu Yuan but were unable to save him. Every year the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated to commemorate this attempt at rescuing Qu Yuan.

June

June 1st

Tulsa Riots: The Destruction of "Black Wall Street"

June 1st marks ninety-three years since as many as 300 African Americans lost their lives and more than 9,000 were left homeless when the small town was attacked, looted and literally burned to the ground beginning in 1921.  It's impossible, however, to realize what was lost in Greenwood, which was affectionately known as "Black Wall Street.

The Tulsa Race Riot was a large-scale, racially motivated conflict on May 31 and June 1, 1921, in which whites attacked the black community of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It resulted in the Greenwood District, also known as Black Wall Street' and the wealthiest black community in the United States, being burned to the ground. During the night and day of the riot, deputized whites killed more than 300 African Americans. During the 16 hours of the assault, police arrested and detained more than 6,000 black Greenwood residents at three local facilities, in part for their protection. An estimated 10,000 blacks were left homeless, and 35 city blocks composed of 1,256 residences were destroyed by fire.

The events of the riot were long omitted from local and state histories. In 1996, the state legislature commissioned a report to establish the historical record of the events, and acknowledge the victims and damages to the black community.

Source: www.ebony.com/black-history/the-destruction-of-black-wall-street-405
Source:  blackhistory.com/content/258551/never-forget-the-destruction-of-black-wall-street

Check it out!
Survivors and Decendants Recall the Riots


June 4th-5th

Shavuot

Shavuot is the Hebrew name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks. In Greek it is called Pentecost, because it takes place 50 days after Passover (for its relation to the Christian celebration of Pentecost, see June 8). This Jewish festival commemorates the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai and celebrates the harvest season in Israel. 


June 6th

Swedish National Day

Since 1983, June 6th commemorates the date on which Gustav Vasa was crowned king in 1523, which laid the foundation of Sweden as an independent state, and on which a new, important constitution was adopted in 1809. The day was made an official public holiday in 2005 and replaced the Whit Monday.

There have been some people who have questioned the logic of celebrating this day as the national day because of the fact that it was not celebrated for several decades. However, it marks the conclusion of the Kalmar Union, ruled by the Danish, and in a way signals Swedish independence.

Source: sweden.se/tag/heritage


June 19th

Juneteenth

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today.


June 20th

World Refugee Day

There are approximately 45 million displaced people in the world today, forced from their homes by war, persecution, famine, or natural disaster. The United Nations General Assembly in Resolution 55/76 decided that, beginning in 2001, this date would be celebrated as World Refugee Day This occasion respects the bravery, power and strength of mind of women, men and children who are required to flee their mother country under danger of discrimination, clash and aggression.  The day is devoted to lift up consciousness of the state of affairs of expatriates all through the world.

African Refugee Day had been formally celebrated in several countries prior to 2001. The UN noted that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on 20 June. In the Roman Catholic Church, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees is celebrated in January each year 


June 24th

Dia de San Juan (Puerto Rico)

Since John the Baptist is the patron saint of the Puerto Rico and the namesake of the capital city (San Juan), his saint's day is widely celebrated by big parties on the beaches on the Eve of the holiday. One tradition is to walk backward into the ocean and fall in 12 times at midnight on the beginning of the 24th. 


June 27th

Multiculturalism Day (Canada)

Canadian Multiculturalism day was founded in 2002 by then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who designated June 27th of each year for the occasion. Canadian Multiculturalism Day is an opportunity to reflect on both the contributions of Canada's various cultural communities and the values that we all share: freedom, democracy, individual rights and the rule of law. 


June 28th

Stonewall Rebellion Day

This day commemorates the 1969 riots that occurred between police and members of the GLBT community in Greenwich Village. The Stonewall riots inspired LGBT people throughout the country to organize in support of gay rights, and within two years after the riots, gay rights groups had been started in nearly every major city in the United States.

Source: www.civilrights.org/archives/2009/06/449-stonewall.html

Ramadan Begins 

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. Ramadan is a time when Muslims concentrate on their faith and spend less time on the concerns of their everyday lives. It is a time of worship and contemplation.

During the Fast of Ramadan strict restraints are placed on the daily lives of Muslims. They are not allowed to eat or drink during the daylight hours. Smoking and sexual relations are also forbidden during fasting. At the end of the day the fast is broken with prayer and a meal called the iftar. In the evening following the iftar it is customary for Muslims to go out visiting family and friends. The fast is resumed the next morning.

During Ramadan, it is common for Muslims to go to the Mosque and spend several hours praying and studying the Quran. In addition to the five daily prayers, during Ramadan Muslims recite a special prayer called the Taraweeh prayer (Night Prayer). The length of this prayer is usually 2-3 times as long as the daily prayers. Some Muslims spend the entire night in prayer.

On the evening of the either the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th day of the month, Muslims celebrate the Laylat-al-Qadr (the Night of Power). It is believed that on this night Muhammad first received the revelation of the Holy Quran. And according to the Quran, this is when God determines the course of the world for the following year.

Source: www.holidays.net/ramadan/story.htm

September

September 15 - October 15

Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month originated in 1968 under the presidency of Lyndon Johnson.  From September 15th to October 15th Americans celebrate the memories and contributions of their Spanish, Mexican, Caribbean, Central and South American ancestors.

Hispanic Heritage Month commemorates the anniversaries of independence for Latin American countries (i.e., Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) on September 15th, the anniversary of independence for Mexico and Chile on September 16th and 18th, and Columbus Day on October 12th. 

PBS Video Series:  Latino Americans
National Hispanic Heritage Month Website
Boston Public Library  Latino Literature Book List, 2014 (PDF)
Latino Social Workers Organization
October

September 15 - October 15

Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month originated in 1968 under the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. From September 15th to October 15th Americans celebrate the memories and contributions of their Spanish, Mexican, Caribbean, Central and South American ancestors.

Hispanic Heritage Month commemorates the anniversaries of independence for Latin American countries (i.e., Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) on September 15th, the anniversary of independence for Mexico and Chile on September 16th and 18th, and Columbus Day on October 12th.

PBS Video Series: Latino Americans
National Hispanic Heritage Month Website
Boston Public Library Latino Literature Book List, 2014 (PDF)
Latino Social Workers Organization

October 10th

Celebrate World Mental Health Day

Since 1992, the World Federation for Mental Health has inspired an annual celebration promoting advocacy for global mental health. World Mental Health Day, held on October 10th of each year, involves members in over 150 countries bringing public awareness to the impact of mental illness on individuals' daily lives. The annual event allows conversations to be had around current issues in the field as well as opportunities to address and support needs in mental health care. Each year the day has a theme and, this year, it will be "Living with schizophrenia." The World Health Organization and the World Federation for Mental Health will provide information on how to best live a healthy life and manage schizophrenia. Learn more about World Mental Health Day here.


October 11th

National Coming Out Day

On Oct. 11, 1987, half a million people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. It was the second such demonstration in our nation's capital and resulted in the founding of a number of LGBT organizations. The momentum continued four months after this march as more than 100 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists from around the country gathered and came up with the idea of a national day to celebrate coming out and chose the anniversary of that second march on Washington to mark it. From this idea the National Coming Out Day was born.

Human Rights Campaign video
November

Native American Heritage Month

The month of November is nationally recognized as Native American Heritage Month, a time in which we celebrate and recognize the contributions that the first Americans have made to our society. Currently there are over 600 federal and state recognized tribes within the United States, 3 of which are located in Massachusetts.

The Struggle for Recognition
The origin of Native American Heritage month began in the early 1900's with Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who persuading the Boy Scouts of America to commemorate one day a year to the "First Americans". In 1915, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe Indian, issued a proclamation that the second Saturday of each May would be known as "American Indian Day" and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens. That same year Red Fox Games, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for an official day in which the entire country could honor Native Americans. On December 14, 1915 he presented to the White House a list of 24 endorsements from state governments, however, there is no record of this national day being proclaimed. Finally, in 1990 George W. Bush approved a joint session designating November the "National American Indian Heritage Month" that we continue to observe today.

For more information about National American Heritage Month and related events, please visit the following website: nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov


November 16th

International Day for Tolerance

November 16, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary for the annual observance of International Tolerance Day. by UNESCO in 1995 to generate public awareness of the dangers of intolerance. In 1996, UNESCO's Member States adopted a Declaration of Principles on Tolerance (see link below). Among other things, the Declaration affirms that tolerance is respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our world's cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. 

The Declaration qualifies tolerance not only as a moral duty, but also as a political and legal requirement for individuals, groups and States. It situates tolerance in relation to the international human rights and emphasizes that States should draft new legislation when necessary to ensure equality of treatment and of opportunity for all groups and individuals in society.

Content sourced from www.un.org/en

Check Out These Resources for more on International Tolerance Day

December

December 1st

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day was the first global health day and the first one was held in 1988. On December first of each year, it is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in solidarity to pay tribute to the millions of people living with HIV/AIDS, raise awareness of the global impact of HIV/AIDS, and celebrate victories that are allowing more people to live longer and healthier lives. The 2013 theme for World AIDS Day is "Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation." The theme is about reducing new HIV infections, discrimination and AIDS related deaths to zero through increased advances and equal access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care.

Why is World AIDS Day important?
More than two-thirds of the estimated 34 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide are in developing countries, and nearly three-fourths of the 2.5 million new HIV infections in 2011 occurred in these countries. Today, many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. But despite this, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV. World AIDS Day reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

What can I do on World AIDS Day? 
Learn the facts about HIV and put your knowledge into action! If you understand how HIV is transmitted, how it can be prevented, and the reality of living with HIV today - you can use this knowledge to take care of your own health and the health of others, and ensure you treat everyone living with HIV fairly, and with respect and understanding. 

You can also show your support for people living with HIV on World AIDS Day by wearing a red ribbon, the international symbol of HIV awareness and support. Thirty years after the first cases of HIV – the red ribbon is the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV. The red ribbon was the first ever ribbon symbol, inspiring later versions such as the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness.

Although World AIDS Day is a great opportunity to get the public talking about HIV and fundraise, we need to remember the importance of raising awareness of HIV all year round. 

The Facts
www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics
www.wemakethechange.com/hiv-prevention/symptoms

Check it Out!
Faces of HIV is a project that examines the effects of stigmas, the personal relationships and care issues associated with being HIV positive.


December 3rd

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Break Barriers, Open Doors: For an Inclusive Society for All.
International Day of People with Disability is a United Nations sanctioned day that aims to promote an understanding of people with disability and encourage support for their dignity, rights and well-being. Approximately 15% of the world population or 1 billion people live with some form of disability. People with disabilities face physical, social, and economic and attitudinal barriers that exclude them from participating fully and effectively as equal members of society.

The commemoration of this year's International Day of Persons with Disabilities provides an opportunity to further raise awareness of disability and accessibility as a cross cutting development issue and further the global efforts to promote accessibility, remove all types of barriers, and to realize the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society and shape the future of development for all!

In the United States, the Disability Law Society is encouraging faculty and students at the Syracuse University College of Law to leave all interior doors open for the entire day.  As a way to "Break Barriers, Open Doors: For an Inclusive Society for All," the students at the College of Law are literally opening doors for access for all at the law school.  On each door a sign will be posted explaining why the doors should be left open and explaining the importance of spreading awareness about disability rights. 

Visit www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1607#events to read about other ways this day is being internationally commemorated.


December 8th

Bodhi Day

Rohatsu is also known as Bodhi Day. This day commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni), experienced enlightenment and nirvana. According to tradition, Siddhartha had forsaken years of extreme ascetic practices and resolved to sit under a peepal tree and simply meditate until he found the root of suffering, and how to liberate oneself from it.

Different Buddhist sects in different parts of the world celebrate the occasion of the Buddha's enlightenment at different times during the year. Tibetan Buddhists, for example, usually celebrate the event in June, while Theravada Buddhists usually celebrate it in May. Rohatsu celebrates the Buddha's own achievement, as well as the example that his achievement set for other spiritual seekers who aspire to follow in his footsteps, in order to thereby also awaken to enlightenment and blissful nirvana.

Visit www.pbs.org/thebuddha to watch The Buddha, a film by David Grubin online for free! The film tells the story of the Buddha's life, a journey especially relevant to our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual confusion. Hear insights into the ancient narrative by contemporary Buddhists, including Pulitzer Prize winning poet W.S. Merwin and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Join the conversation and learn more about meditation, the history of Buddhism, and how to incorporate the Buddha's teachings on compassion and mindfulness into daily life.

Visit  www.youtube.com/watch?v=4azTchxQXDI&list=WL824E8D075F1A3199 to watch a free lecture exploring the neuroscience and psychology behind meditation, enlightenment, and awakening.

Check out these scholarly articles on neuroscience and meditation! www.rickhanson.net/science/key-papers


December 10th

Human Rights Day

December 18th

International Migrants Day

 

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