This is the Jewish New Year celebration. It takes place on the first day of Tishrei, which is the first month of the civil year (although the 7th month of the ecclesiastical year) and is said to be the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve.
One of the customs of this celebration is eating apples dipped in honey to symbolise the wish for a sweet New Year. Another is the founding of a horn (known as a shofar) which is a call to repentance in remembrance of mankind’s first sin. The horn is sounded 100 times over the 2 day festival unless the first day falls on Shabbat.
No work is allowed on this day and Jews spend much of the time in the synagogue. Rosh Hashanah is a time for self-reflection, for asking forgiveness for wrong-doings, and for planning to be better in the coming year.
Related posts: Sukkot Yom Kippur
The Mexican festival of Los Santos Inocentes (the innocent saints) is similar to our April Fools’ Day. It is celebrated on December 28th and it was originally to recall the innocent children killed by King Herod.
It was known at first as a day when you could borrow something and not have to return it, so people would try to trick others into lending them something valuable on that day. Nowadays it is a day for practical jokes in general.
Related post: Poisson d’avril
Las Posadas are processions which take place in Mexico on nine consecutive evenings leading up to Christmas Eve. A boy and a girl are chosen to represent Mary and Joseph and they process through the town, carrying lanterns and candles, and re-enacting the story of Joseph and Mary being turned away from the inns.
They sing at each of the houses they stop at. Each night a different house is chosen to be the one that offers shelter, and a party is hosted there. There is a meal with carols (called villancicos), small gifts of fruit and sweets are exchanged and the children break a piñata shaped like a star.
The Virgin Mary is the patron saint of Mexico. The story says that she appeared three times in December 1531 to a poor man by the name of Juan Diego. Each time, she told him to tell the bishop to build a church on that spot.
After the first two appearances the bishop didn’t believe the story, but after the third time a rose bush grew on the spot where she had appeared, and her image could be seen on Juan Diego’s cloak. After that, the bishop believed him and the church, the Basilica de Guadeloupe, was built.
The festival of the Virgin of Guadeloupe begins the Christmas celebrations in Mexico. It lasts for nine Days, from 3rd to 12th December and pilgrimages are made to the church during this time. On the 11th December there are fireworks and light displays and people dance until the following morning which is her feast day.
May Day is celebrated for two reasons: one is as an ancient spring festival, and the other is as Labour Day. This post will look at the spring festival.
It’s a day to celebrate the farm work being completed and the last of the seeds being planted. Labourers would have the day off to rest and celebrate. Perhaps the most famous portrayal of the May Day festival is in Thomas Hardy Tess of the d’Urbervilles. The heroine, Tess, appears for the first time at a May day celebration, dressed in white to symbolise her purity and innocence.
Traditional May Day celebrations include dancing around the maypole, and crowning a Queen of the May. Nobody really knows where the tradition of dancing round the maypole came from, but if you want to have a go I found this website with instructions on how to do so! www.maypoledance.com.