Category Archives: Holiday Lore

Happy Holi — Spring Festival of Colors

Holi celebration image

Holi is a colorful and boisterous Hindu spring festival in India, also known as the Festival of Colors. This is a time of shedding inhibitions: People smear each other with red and yellow powder and shower each other with colored water shot from bamboo blowpipes or water pistols. Restrictions of caste, sex, age, and personal differences are ignored.

The name of the festival derives from the name of the wicked Holika. According to legend, an evil king had a good son, Prince Prahlad, who was sent by the gods to deliver the land from the king’s cruelty. Holika, the king’s sister, decided to kill the prince with fire. Believing she was immune to fire, she held the child in her lap and sat in flames. But Lord Krishna stepped in to save Prahlad, and Holika was left in the fire and burned to death. On the night before the festival, images of Holika are burned on huge bonfires, drums pound, horns blow, and people whoop.

Another tale, related to the practice of water-throwing, is that the small monkey god Hanuman one day managed to swallow the sun. People were sad to live in darkness, and other gods suggested they rub color on one another and laugh. They mixed the color in water and squirted each other, and Hanuman thought this was so funny he gave a great laugh, and the sun flew out of his mouth.

There is also the story that the Mongol Emperor Akbar thought everyone would look equal if covered with color, and he therefore ordained the holiday to unite the castes.

The celebrations differ from city to city. In Mathura, Lord Krishna’s legendary birthplace, there are especially exuberant processions with songs and music. In the villages of Nandgaon and Barsnar, once homes of Krishna and his beloved Radha, the celebrations are spread over 16 days. And in Besant, people set up a 25-foot pole called a chir to begin the celebrations and burn it at the end of the festival.

In Bangladesh the festival is called Dol-Jatra, the Swing Festival, because a Krishna doll is kept in a swinging cradle, or dol. In Nepal it is called Rung Khelna, “playing with color.” They build a three-tiered, 25-foot high umbrella and at its base people light joss sticks, and place flowers and red powder. Instead of squirting water, they drop water-filled balloons from upper windows.

Source: Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, 5th Ed., published by Omnigraphics


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International Women’s Day 2019

She Persisted Greeting Card

Greeting card by Kelly Angelovic. Click for more info.

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Not only is this commemorative day one of the most widely observed holidays of recent origin, but it is unusual in that it began in the United States and was adopted by many other countries, including the former U.S.S.R. and the People’s Republic of China. This holiday has its roots in the March 8, 1857, revolt of American women in New York City, protesting conditions in the textile and garment industries, although it wasn’t proclaimed a holiday until 1910.

International Women’s Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action — whatever that looks like globally at a local level. No one government, NGO, charity, corporation, academic institution, women’s network, or media hub is solely responsible for International Women’s Day.

The 2019 campaign theme of #BalanceforBetter is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women’s craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades, and more. To see a list of activities and to read more about the 2019 theme, visit the IWD website.

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Universal Children’s Day

Women Who Rock Our World 2019 wall calendar

Image from our Women Who Rock Our World 2019 wall calendar featuring artwork by Rachel Grant. Click for more info.

Celebrated on November 20th each year, Universal Children’s Day was established in 1954 by the United Nations. This special day is an opportunity to promote international togetherness and focus on improving children’s welfare. Since 1990, Universal Children’s Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the declaration and the convention on children’s rights. Continue reading

World Kindness Day — Make Kindness the Norm

Katie Daisy 2019 wall calendar

Image from our Katie Daisy 2019 wall calendar. Click for more info.

World Kindness Day is an international observance on November 13. It was introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement. Today we’re invited to highlight good deeds that focus on the positive power and common thread of kindness that binds us regardless of race, religion, politics, gender, or zip codes. Continue reading

World Vegetarian Day

Super Foods 2019 wall calendar

Photo by Lynn Karlin from our Super Foods 2019 wall calendar.

To celebrate World Vegetarian Day, we’d like to introduce the new 2019 Super Foods wall calendar. Filled with mouthwatering photos by Lynn Karlin, this calendar will serve up a full year’s worth of cooking inspiration. 

World Vegetarian Day is a day of celebration observed annually around the planet on October 1. Established by the North American Vegetarian Society in 1977 and endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union in 1978, its purpose is “To promote the joy, compassion and life-enhancing possibilities of vegetarianism.” This celebration is intended to raise awareness of the ethical, environmental, health, and humanitarian benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. Continue reading

International Day of Peace 2018

International Day of Peace PosterEach year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on September 21. The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. The first official observance of the day was in September 1982.

The theme for 2018 is “The Right to Peace: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70.”

The theme celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on December 10, 1948, as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. The Universal Declaration—the most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages—is as relevant today as it was on the day that it was adopted. Continue reading

Ganesh Chathurthi

Ganesh greeting card

Ganesh Blessing greeting card. Click for more info.

Ganesh Chathurthi is a lively seven- to ten-day long festival to worship the elephant-headed Ganesh, the Hindu god of wisdom and success. As the remover of obstacles, he is also called Vighnesa or Vighneswara. It starts on the fourth day of the Hindu luni-solar calendar month Bhadrapada, which typically falls in the months of August or September of the Gregorian calendar. For 2018, the festival begins on September 13 (dates may vary by region). The festival is especially colorful in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, and is the bestknown event in Bombay. Continue reading

Artist Spotlight — Robert Sturman: The People’s Yoga

The People's Yoga 2019 wall calendar

Image from The People’s Yoga 2019 wall calendar featuring photographs by Robert Sturman. Click for more info.

To celebrate Yoga Day, we’d like to introduce you to a new member of our family of contributing artists and his gorgeous new wall calendar — The People’s Yoga.

Experience the global connection of yoga in these striking photographs that highlight the serenity of stillness within the hustle, bustle, and grit of modern living. Dedicated yoga practitioner and photographer Robert Sturman captures everyday people and yogis from around the world in dynamic moments of this ancient practice. A woman stretching into Scorpion pose in Manhattan; a group of musicians paused in Standing Backbend in Bulgaria; and a police officer meditating in uniform before a Ganesha mural in Venice Beach, California, are just a few of these portraits of quiet strength and everyday life. Continue reading