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Celebrations around the world

Celebrations around the world

Over the years, traditions have shifted and with them, the way we perceive them. The dictionary.com description notes traditions as “the transfer of claims, beliefs, stories, rituals, knowledge, etc., from generation to generation, in particular by word of mouth or practice.” But if we were to follow tradition’s modern-day usage, we would come to the conclusion that we have a lot of them. Nowadays, everything can become a tradition if you’re brave enough.

Celebrations of holidays, religious practices and birthdays are the main ones, which we all know. Cultural traditions, instead, depend on where we grow up and have nothing to do with the ones mentioned above. They bring families together and connect us to people with similar values.

For those of you interested, the word tradition comes from the Latin noun traditio (handing over), which derives from the verb tradere (hand over, deliver). Traditions can be verbal or non-verbal. Non-verbal traditions include traditional artifacts (e.g. icons, monuments, symbolic objects), sites, designs, gestures, postures, customs and institutions. Oral traditions are represented by knowledge handed on through centuries by word of mouth but is not written down. This encompasses historical and spiritual traditions, literature and the rule of law (e.g. blowing out candles at birthday celebrations, tipping a waiter or waitress for good service, removing shoes before entering a home).

In today’s article we wanted to make a different kind of list/top, in which we explore traditions from around the globe. Here are a few of the world’s most popular celebrations:

  • Holi, Festival of Color (India) – happening at the beginning of March

Holi is an ancient Hindu holy festival, also known – for obvious reasons – as the Color Festival. While it originated in India as a celebration of Prahlada’s victory over the evil Hiranyakaship in Bhagavata Purana, it has since been embraced in other nations, particularly where there is a large Indian diaspora. The event, celebrated annually in the spring, ends with the traditional Holika bonfire. The outcome is a spectacular free-for-all, with plumes of water and colorful powders filling the room, where everybody – regardless of their history or status –enters the ‘ fight ‘.

  • Yi Peng Lantern Festival (Thailand) – happening on the 22nd of November

Celebrated in the northern Lanna province of Thailand, Yi Peng – performed alongside the greater Loi Krathong festival (where miniature painted water floats are released into rivers) is a festival of lights in which sky lanterns are launched into the air. As well as the impressive sight of thousands of flickering lanterns being hurled into the sky, there are occasional parades, firework shows and lighting of houses and temples. Traditionally, the festival is observed on the full moon of the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar (usually November) and takes place in Chiang Mai, the ancient capital of the former Lanna Kingdom.

  • Oktoberfest (Germany) – happening in Autumn

Oktoberfest (German pronunciation: is the biggest Volksfest in the world (beer festival and funfair). Annually held in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, the 16-to 18-day folk festival runs from mid-September to the first Sunday in October, with more than six million participants from all over the world attending the celebration every year. High amounts of Oktoberfest beer are drunk during the event: 7,7 million liters (66,000 US bbl; 1,700,000 imp gal) were sold during the 16-day celebration in 2013. Visitors can enjoy a variety of attractions, such as thrill parks, sidewalks and sports. There is also a wide variety of conventional foods available.

  • Patrick’s Day (Ireland, and in countries with a large Irish diaspora) – happening on the 17th of March

St. Patrick’s Day is a regional festival of Irish history on or near 17 March. It is especially reminiscent of St Patrick, one of Ireland’s patron saints, who operated as a Christian in Ireland in the fifth century. St. Patrick’s Day is observed in other parts of the world, in particular by Irish societies and organizations. A lot of people wear green clothes on the day. Parties of Irish cuisine and cocktails colored in green fruit are part of this celebration. It’s a time when children can indulge in sweets and adults can share a pint of beer in a local pub. St Patrick’s Day is a holiday in Northern Ireland (United Kingdom) and the Republic of Ireland. St. Patrick’s Day is also a festive day in parts of the country where it is not a national holiday.

  • Rio de Janeiro Carnival (Brazil) – happening Friday before Ash Wednesday (51 days to Easter)

The Rio de Janeiro Carnival is a festival that takes place every year before Lent and is considered the biggest carnival in the world, with two million people on the streets every day. The first carnival festival in Rio took place in 1723. A traditional Rio carnival parade is packed with revelers, floats and ornaments from various samba schools based in Rio (about 200, split into 5 leagues / divisions). The Samba Schools Parade is the highlight of the Rio Carnival and takes place at the Sambadrome Prof. Six different groups of samba schools play every night, taking up to 80 minutes to walk down the runway.

  • Comic Con (San Diego, California) – happening usually in July

San Diego Comic-Con International is a non-profit multi-genre film and comic book festival organized annually in San Diego, California, USA. It is a four-day festival (Thursday–Sunday) organized during the summer. Originally featuring mainly comic books and science fiction / fantasy based film, television, and similar mainstream media, the festival has also incorporated a broader variety of pop culture and cultural features from nearly all genres, including horror, Western animation, anime, manga, toys, collectible card games, computer games, webcomics, and fantasy novels. Annually, about 130.000 people take part in the event.

  • La Tomatina (Valencia, Spain) – happening usually at the end of August

La Tomatina is an annual, globally-renowned Spanish festival. As the name suggests, tomatoes are a huge part of this day-long festival, with thousands taking part in a mass tomato-fueled food war. La Tomatina can trace its roots back to the mid-1940s, when the first public tomato food fight accidentally took place in Buñol. La Tomatina might not be the longest fight, but the one-hour battle is pretty serious. You’re going to get drenched with a water hose, and then, as the cannon fire happens, it’s all hands on as many tomatoes as you can bring to the enemy, who could just be your best friend.

  • AgitÁgueda (Águeda, Portugal) – happening in July

Some of the most identifiable features of this lively Portuguese festival is the construction of hundreds of bright parasols on one of the city’s avenues. Other areas of the urban environment, such as park benches, steps and utility lines, are often covered in vivid samples of street art, producing an enchanting atmosphere. The goal of the festival is to encourage new musical and creative ventures with the’ Talentos AgitAgueda,’ a competition for young artists. As well as new aspirations, there are many proven national and international acts that grace the stage.

  • Fuji Shibazakura Festival – happening during Spring time

The Fuji Shibazakura Festival takes place every year and last year welcomed more than 500,000 people. From mid-April to the end of May, 800,000 shibazakura flowers (pink moss or phlox moss) bloom near Lake Motosu in the Fuji Five Lakes area. It creates colorful colors of pink, orange, brown, and white— all set against the image of Mount Fuji. The Mt. Fuji Wonderful Food Festival also takes place during the Fuji Shibazakura Season, with stalls selling pink moss pots along with the regular season food and a variety of local souvenirs.

  • Mardi Gras (New Orleans, USA) –happening two weeks before Shrove Tuesday

Mardi Gras is a Christian celebration and a common culture tradition that traces back thousands of years to the ancient celebrations of springtime and fertility. Often known as the Carnival, it is celebrated in many countries around the world— mainly those with significant Roman Catholic populations— on the day before the holy season of Lent starts. The largest parades of the season and the best celebrations are in the two weeks leading up to Mardi Gras Day, getting people of all ages and dresses together in parades, pubs, formal balls and more.

To sum it all up, holding traditions alive is necessary for the next generation to know about a common or shared history. Traditions are values or practices that are carried down from one generation to the next within a social community or culture. Traditions are also related to one’s ethnicity or religion. Any practices are secular and shared by a wide variety of ethnic cultures.

But in our current civilization, keeping rituals alive remains difficult. Diversity of existence is essential for the adoption of new concepts and ways of being. However, the lack of sanctity attributed to rituals is a detrimental result of globalization. Some claim that customs are out of date or represent a belief structure that is not relevant in today’s world.

We would like to discover more traditions or celebrations, so let us know in the comments below what YOU use to celebrate in your country of origin.

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