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Important Days to Celebrate

Diversity Voice would like to encourage schools, preschools and other organisations to celebrate events that are important for the communities living in Somerset. Many schools and students are not aware of all festivities, celebrations and events that are observed by their parents and pupils or how important it is for expats to maintain the traditions of their home countries.

Diversity Voice would be more than happy to visit schools and run workshops regarding some of the events. We can provide diversity events for children in reception or older ages, for both Junior and Secondary Schools. For toddlers we offer a wide choice of games and activities so they can learn by having fun and playing games and for the older students we provide workshops focused on history, cultural events and customs in European countries. To request this service please only use the e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Shown below are some of the festivals and holidays in Europe:

Children's Day is celebrated on various days around the world to honour children. In many countries it’s celebrated on 1 June (Portugal, Romania, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and many more). Another major date which is celebrated is Universal Children's Day on 20 November (Canada, Kenya, Spain, Ireland, France, UK, South Africa, Israel ...). This is a time when parents usually buy small gifts for their children. The first week of June is a time of festivities organised in parks and entertainment centres for children. Schools usually organise special activities for children around this time.

21st March - in many European schools there is a tradition whereby the majority of the class skip school around this time, often to spend the day at an amusement park or resort. In Poland, on the first day of spring (March 21st), children traditionally play truant, using the day as an unofficial day off (very popular among children), who go to the cinema or play games and competitions.

Easter Monday, the day after Easter Sunday, is a holiday in some countries, including of course the UK. Śmigus-dyngus meaning ‘Wet Monday’, is the name for Easter Monday in Poland. In the Czech Republic it is called velikonoční pondělí, in Slovakia, veľkonočný pondelok, and in Hungary húsvéthétfő. All countries practice unique customs on this day. In Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic, traditionally, early in the morning, boys wakeup girls by pouring a bucket of water on their head and striking them about the legs with long thin twigs or switches made from willow, birch or decorated tree branches (not recommended!). In Germany, people go out into the fields early in the morning and hold Easter egg races.

25 April - Freedom Day is a national holiday in Portugal, with official commemorations.
It celebrates the 1974 Revolution that ended the dictatorship and started democracy. Portugal celebrates its peaceful revolution with a public holiday and as much pomp and circumstance as they can muster. Music played a big role in the revolution and so there are lots of concerts on that day, also festivals, performances, people selling things in the streets, and photography exhibitions spread out through the country.

International Workers' Day - 1 May, also known as Labour Day in some countries, is a celebration of labourers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labour movement, socialists, communists and anarchists. Being a traditional European spring celebration, Labour day is a national public holiday in many countries including: Romania, Poland, Czech Republic, Italy, Slovakia, Lithuania, Spain, Germany, and Portugal. The origin of our present holiday lies in the fight for an eight-hour working day, in which cause the leaders of the socialist Second International called for an international day of protest to be held at the beginning of May in 1890.

23, 24 June - Latvia's most important national holiday – Jāņi, is an annual Latvian tradition when Latvians celebrate the shortest night by staying up to greet the rising sun. People travel from the city into the countryside to gather and eat, drink, sing and celebrate the solstice by observing the ancient folk traditions relating to renewal and fertility. Women pick flowers, grasses and oak leaves to make wreaths for their heads, while men are supposed to jump into a nearby lake or river. Jani is also known as Midsummer or St John's Day, and is also celebrated in Austria, Sweden, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Portugal and others European countries.



midsamer

15 August - St Mary's Day is an annual national holiday in Romania. It celebrates the Christian belief that God took the Virgin Mary into Heaven following her death. Large crowds gather in processions and pilgrimages involving thousands of Romanians. Events, such as festivities with naval ships, are held in port cities and often attract thousands of visitors. It is a national public holiday so banks, public offices, and many private businesses are closed. On the same date in Italy colourful processions go through the streets and firework displays are held throughout the country. In Sicily and rural areas outside Rome, a bowing procession is the day’s main event. A statue of the Virgin Mary is carried through the town to a ceremonial arch of flowers.

4 May - Restoration of Independence Day in Latvia. On 4 May 1990. Latvia proclaimed its independence from the USSR, and the Republic of Latvia was restored. If the day falls over the weekend the following Monday is a public holiday.

11 November - National Independence Day is a national day in Poland. This date is celebrated to commemorate the anniversary of the restoration of Poland's sovereignty as the Second Polish Republic in 1918, after 123 years of partition by the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Habsburg Empire. It is a very important day for Polish communities.

indep poland

February 16 Lithuania marks Independence Day. Lithuania first declared itself free from Czarist Russia on February 16, 1918. They remained an independent nation until 1940, when the Soviet Union annexed it. After remaining under the Soviet Union for almost 50 years, the Republic of Lithuania became independent again in 1990. Independence Day is celebrated in grand style in Lithuania and also in Poland and Latvia. Major cities organise festivities, concerts, public speeches, parades, and other state-sponsored events. Vilnius holds public shows at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre.
6 December- St Nicholas day - St. Nicholas Day is a popular occasion for children in many parts of Europe. Some European cities such as Bari in Italy recognise St. Nicholas as their patron saint and celebrate with different activities such as gift-giving, parades, feasts and festivals.

18 December - International Migrants Day. This is an international day which is celebrated and aims to protect the rights of migrant workers and members of their families. This day is observed in many countries by intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations and through the dissemination of information on human rights and fundamental political freedoms of migrants.

Teachers' Day is a special day and opportunity to acknowledge our teachers and say thanks for the significant contributions they make in our classrooms and communities. The date on which Teachers' Day is celebrated varies from country to country. Teachers' days in different countries are distinct from World Teachers' Day, which is celebrated on 5th October. In Slovakia people celebrate Teachers’ day on 28th March, Romanian and Lithuanians celebrate it on 5th June, Hungary and Latvia on the First Sunday of June and Poland on 14th October. On that special occasion teachers usually have an assembly followed by a staff meeting in the restaurant or café to celebrate the day. They usually receive flowers and small gifts from their students.

26 September - The European Day of Languages is established by the Council of Europe. Its aim is to encourage language learning across Europe and promote the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe. There are about 225 indigenous languages in Europe with English currently being the most popular foreign language. This is followed by German, French, Italian, Russian and Spanish.

The 1st and 2nd November are very important days – All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. TIn Poland, Belgium, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal most people travel to the places where their relatives are buried. They meet at the graveside, lay flowers, light candles and pray for those who are gone and talk about good things they did. It is a serious celebration and has nothing in common with a happy Halloween. It is time to be with the people closest to you and to think of those who are gone. The French place Chrysanthemums or wreaths at each tomb or grave. In Spain the play Don Juan Tenorio is traditionally performed. In the morning of All Saints Day in Portugal, children go out into the streets, knocking on every door, reciting poems and asking for the 'cookie' or 'bread of God', an ancient tradition that has some similarities to Halloween. Traditionally they are given bread, scones, cakes, nuts, walnuts, almonds, chestnuts and dried fruit.

Halloween – October 31, The traditions and importance of Halloween vary greatly from country to country. Children dress up playing ‘trick or treat’. They knock on the doors of family, friends and neighbours to receive sweets or scare them. Adults also often wear scary costumes spending the day with friends or attending Halloween parties. Lots of houses are decorated with spider webs, skeletons and pumpkins.

 

all saints

There are many special days that people celebrate throughout the year. People use these days to remember or celebrate important events or honour people from history or religious figures. Many people celebrate traditions from the countries that their families came from. People of different religions and cultures celebrate different events on different days. Cultural traditions function to strengthen a sense of community. The specific type of tradition may have a deep and positive impact on how young people see themselves in the future. Perhaps the best thing about celebration of all kinds is that they makes our lives richer and fuller.

 

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