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LETS CELEBRATE

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Chinese New Year

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Ancient Chinese legends tell of the Nian, a man-eating beast from the mountains which came out every winter to feast on humans. To scare the Nian away, the people used loud noises such as firecrackers and fireworks, and bright colors, particularly red. These customs led to the first New Year celebrations. Chinese firecracker craft It used to be traditional to set off firecrackers at Chinese New Year, to see off the old year and welcome in the new.

Getting Ready for Chinese New Year


In the run up to Chinese New Year, homes are spring-cleaned thoroughly so that all the bad luck of the previous year is swept away. Often houses are freshly painted. Traditional Chinese homes sometimes get a new coat of red paint, as red is a particularly lucky color. Homes are decorated with paper-cuts. Also used to decorate homes are Chinese couplets. These are two tall posters, usually consisting of 4 Chinese characters each, which are hung on either side of the front door. The couplets express traditional good wishes for the year ahead.

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Chinese New Year Traditions


Lucky Money: At Chinese New Year parents, family and friends give money to children in red envelopes. The red color symbolizes good luck, and the amount of money can be anything from a small coin to a larger amount. Lucky money envelopes are also known as Red Packets or Red Envelopes.

Chinese firecrackers

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Year of the rat paper-cut

Chinese couplets

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Lucky money envelopes

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Notting Hill Carnival

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Notting Hill Carnival is an annual event which takes place in Notting Hill, London, England each August, over two days (Sunday and the following bank holiday). It has continuously taken place on the streets of Notting Hill since 1965. It is led by members of the Caribbean population, many of whom have lived in the area since the 1950s. The carnival has attracted up to 2 million people in the past, putting it the second largest street festival in the world, after Rio. It is also often compared to Karneval der Kulturen in Berlin. It attracted press attention in 1976 for clashes with the police which continued for several years. More recently however Carnival has been seen as a peaceful event, and attracts press attention for the attendance figures.

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Approximately 1 million people attend the Notting Hill Carnival each year.

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History
Approximately 1 million people attend the Notting Hill Carnival each year. Carnival began in January 1959 in St Pancras Town Hall as a response to the depressing state of race relations at the time; the UK's first widespread racial attacks (the Notting Hill race riots) had occurred the previous year. It was a huge success, despite being held indoors. It first moved outside and shifted into August in 1965. The prime movers were Rhaune Laslett, who was not aware of the indoor events when she first raised the idea, and Claudia Jones, who is widely recognized as 'the Mother of Notting Hill Carnival'. At this point, it was more a Notting Hill event than an African-Caribbean event, and only around a thousand people turned out. By 1976 the event had become definitely Caribbean in flavour, with around 150,000 people attending. However, in that year and several subsequent years Carnival was marred by riots, in which predominantly Caribbean youths fought with police a target due to the continuous harassment the population felt they were under During this period, there was considerable coverage of the disorder in the press, which some felt took an unfairly negative and one-sided view of Carnival. For a while it looked as if the event would be banned. Prince Charles was one of the few establishment figures who supported the event.

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In 2003 Carnival was run by a limited company, the Notting Hill Carnival Trust Ltd. A report by the London Development Agency on the 2002 Carnival estimated that the event contributes around 93 million to the London and UK economy. Since 2007 Notting Hill Carnival and the Summer Carnaval in Rotterdam work together in a coalition in which they exchange brass bands and steel bands.

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Diwali: Festival of Lights

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Diwali is certainly the biggest of all Hindu festivals. It's the festival of lights that's marked by four days of celebration, which literally illumines the country with its brilliance and dazzles all with its joy. Each of the four days in the festival of Diwali is separated by a different tradition, but what remains true and constant is the celebration of life, its enjoyment and goodness. Historically, the origin of Diwali can be traced back to ancient India, when it was probably an important harvest . However, there are various legends pointing to the origin of Diwali.

The Significance of Lights & Firecrackers


All the simple rituals of Diwali have a significance and a story to tell. The illumination of homes with lights and the skies with firecrackers is an expression of obeisance to the heavens for the attainment of health,, knowledge, peace and prosperity. According to one belief, the sound of fire-crackers is an indication of the joy of the people living on earth, making the gods aware of their plentiful state. Still another possible reason has a more scientific basis: the fumes produced by the crackers kill a lot of insects and mosquitoes, found in plenty after the rains.

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From Darkness unto Light...


In each legend, myth and story of Deepawali lies the significance of the victory of good over evil; and it is with each Deepawali and the lights that illuminate our homes and hearts, that this simple truth finds new reason and hope. From darkness unto light the light that empowers us to commit ourselves to good deeds, that which brings us closer to divinity. During Diwali, lights illuminate every corner of India and the scent of incense sticks hangs in the air, mingled with the sounds of fire-crackers, joy, and hope. Outside India, Diwali is more than a Hindu festival, it's a celebration of South-Asian identities. If you are away from the sights and sounds of Diwali, light a diya, sit quietly, shut your eyes, withdraw the senses, concentrate on this supreme light and illuminate the soul.

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The Fast of Ramadan

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Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. The Month of Ramadan is also when it is believed the Holy Quran "was sent down from heaven, a guidance unto men, a declaration of direction, and a means of Salvation" It is during this month that Muslims fast. It is called the Fast of Ramadan and lasts the entire month. 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. 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 According to the Holy Quran: One may eat and drink at any time during the night "until you can plainly distinguish a white thread from a black thread by the daylight: then keep the fast until night"

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During Ramadan, it is common for Muslims to go to the Masjid (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 . When the fast ends, it is celebrated for three days in a holiday called Id-alFitr (the Feast of Fast Breaking). Gifts are exchanged. Friends and family gather to pray in congregation and for large meals. In some cities fairs are held to celebrate the end of the Fast of Ramadan.

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Valentine's Day

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Valentine's Day or Saint Valentine's Day is a holiday celebrated on February 14. In the Americas and Europe, it is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other by sending Valentine's cards, presenting flowers, or offering confectionery. The holiday is named after two Valentines among the numerous Early Christian martyrs named so. The day became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. The day is most closely associated with the mutual exchange of love notes in the form of "valentines." Modern Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards. The sending of Valentines was a fashion in nineteenth-century Great Britain. In the United States, the imported fashion leading to a mid-nineteenth century Valentine's Day trade was a harbinger of further commercialized holidays in the United States to follow. The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. The association estimates that women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.

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History
Numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine. Until 1969, the Catholic Church formally recognized eleven Valentine's Days. The Valentines honored on February 14 are Valentine of Rome Valentine of Terni. Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome who suffered martyrdom about AD 269 and was buried on the Via Flaminia. His relics are at the Church of Saint Praxed in Rome. and at Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland. Valentine of Terni became bishop of Interamna (modern Terni) about AD 197 and is said to have been killed during the persecution of Emperor Aurelian. He is also buried on the Via Flaminia, but in a different location than Valentine of Rome. His relics are at the Basilica of Saint Valentine in Terni. The Catholic Encyclopedia also speaks of a third saint named Valentine who was mentioned in early martyrologies under date of 14 February. He was martyred in Africa with a number of companions, but nothing more is known about him. Some sources say the Valentine linked to romance is Valentine of Rome, others say Valentine of Terni .

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Valentines Day around the world


Romantic Festival of Valentine's Day is celebrated with joy in several countries around the world. Every year on February 14, those in love take opportunity of the occasion to reaffirm their love for sweethearts. Many people also express gratitude and love for teachers, friends, parents, or any other person who is dear to them. Most popular Valentine's Day gifts exchanged between loved ones across the globe are cards, fresh flowers and chocolates. All over the world people celebrate Valentine's Day by expressing love to sweethearts, spouses and special ones.

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Valentines Day in Japan


Valentine's Day is celebrated in an interesting manner on two different dates in the country of Japan. On February 14, female present gifts to their boyfriends or any man close to them. The favor is returned to ladies on the White Day celebrated on March 14 when men pamper women who gave them gifts a month before.

Tradition of Gifting Chocolates


There is a strong tradition of women gifting chocolates to men on Valentines Day in Japan. It is seen that two types of chocolates are more popular for Valentine's Day. One type of chocolate called giri-choco is bought for friends, bosses, colleagues and close male friends. Giri' in Japan means obligation hence these types of chocolates has no romantic association. Giri chocolates are mostly bought from the store. Ladies make sure they pass on giri-choco to please all men close to them as it is seen that men who do not receive any chocolate feel embarrassed. Chocolates for boyfriends, lovers or husbands are special ones are called hon-mei. Many Japanese girls think that it is not true love if they buy Valentine's day chocolates for their boyfriend and hence hon-mei -choco is usually prepared by girls themselves. Men feel lucky if they receive hon-mei -choco on Valentine's Day.

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Tradition of Celebrating White Day


White Day celebration in Japan is said to have been initiated as a marketing tool by marshmallow chocolate company in the 1960s. On March 14 or White Day men are supposed to give return gifts of chocolates to women who gifted them chocolates on February 14. The color of the chocolate is generally white because of the name of the day. These days, men also gift flowers, candies and other gifts along with the chocolates.

Valentine's Day Celebration in Japan


Valentine's Day and White Day festival is celebrated with charm and enthusiasm in Japan. It is observed that the festivals are more popular among young group, especially those below 20 years. Most popular Valentine's Day gift is chocolates, though ladies also give other gifts like neckties and clothes to men dear to them.

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Valentines Day in Denmark


Every year Valentine's Day is celebrated on 14th February with extreme joy. People particularly in the age group of 16-30 more actively, participate in the festival's celebrations. Its time for loving by giving and receiving love tokens. People generally take off from their busy schedule to celebrate the festival of love with their sweetheart.

Danish Valentine's Day Traditions


Valentine's Day in Denmark is celebrated in a very conventional way. Some sweet and romantic traditional activities are associated with the festival's celebration. Youngsters take proper care to follow the traditions to have a successful and romance filled love life.

Lover's Card
The tradition of 'lover's card' is the most popular and romantic Valentine's Day custom in Denmark. Earlier, these cards came in the form of transparent cards which reflected the picture of a lover presenting his beloved a wonderful gift when it was kept in front of light. Now any card is called a Lover's Card. Every card shop is stocked up with colorful and musical lover's card with charming Valentine messages. Inapoi Inainte

Valentines Day in India


Valentine's Day celebration is a recent phenomenon in India but has caught the fancy of people to a great extent. Though some see it as a western import and hesitate to celebrate, there exist a large and growing number of those who love the feeling behind the beautiful and romantic festival. Especially to the Indian youth February 14 signifies love - a day when people express their affection for others. Just as several other countries, people in India too celebrate the Valentine's Day by exchanging cards and gifts.

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Halloween

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Halloween, is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31. Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, ghost tours, bonfires, costume parties, visiting "haunted houses" and carving jack-o-lanterns. Irish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century. Halloween is celebrated in several parts of the Western world, most commonly in Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom and occasionally in parts of Australia and New Zealand.

History
The modern holiday of Halloween may have its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain . The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture, and is sometimes erroneously regarded as the "Celtic New Year".Traditionally, the festival was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundary between the alive and the deceased dissolved, and the dead become dangerous for the living by causing problems such as sickness or damaged crops. The festivals would frequently involve bonfires, where the bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown. Costumes and masks were also worn at the festivals in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or placate them. Inapoi Inainte

History of name
The term Halloween is shortened from All-hallow-even, as it is the eve of "All Hallows' Day", which is now also known as All Saints' Day. It was a day of religious festivities in various northern European Pagan traditions, until Popes Gregory III and Gregory IV moved the old Christian feast of All Saints' Day from May 13 to November 1. In the ninth century, the Church measured the day as starting at sunset, in accordance with the Florentine calendar. Although All Saints' Day is now considered to occur one day after Halloween, the two holidays were, at that time, celebrated on the same day. Liturgically, the Church traditionally celebrated that day as the Vigil of All Saints, and, until 1970, a day of fasting as well. Like other vigils, it was celebrated on the previous day if it fell on a Sunday, although secular celebrations of the holiday remained on the 31st. The Vigil was suppressed in 1955, but was later restored in the post-Vatican II calendar.

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Trick-or-treating
Trick-or-treating, is an activity for children on or around Halloween in which they proceed from house to house in costumes, asking for treats such as confectionery with the question, "Trick or treat?" The "trick" part of "trick or treat" is a threat to play a trick on the homeowner or his property if no treat is given. Trick-or-treating is one of the main traditions of Halloween. It has become socially expected that if one lives in a neighborhood with children one should purchase treats in preparation for trick-or-treaters. The National Confectioners Association reported in 2005 that 80 percent of adults in the United States planned to give out confectionery to trick-or-treaters, and that 93 percent of children planned to go trick-or-treating. The activity is popular in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, and due to increased American cultural influence in recent years, imported through exposure to US television and other media, trick-or-treating has started to occur among children in many parts of Europe, and in the Saudi Aramco camps of Dhahran, Akaria compounds and Ras Tanura in Saudi Arabia.

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The most significant growth and resistance is in the United Kingdom, where the police have threatened to prosecute parents who allow their children to carry out the "trick" element. In continental Europe, where the commerce-driven importation of Halloween is seen with more skepticism, numerous destructive or illegal "tricks" and police warnings have further raised suspicion about this game and Halloween in general. In Sweden children dress up as witches and go trick-or-treating on Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter) while Danish children dress up in various attires and go trick-or-treating on Fastelavn

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Bonfire Night
'' Remember,remember,the fifth of November, Gunpowder,treason and plot We see no reason why Gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot!''

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The fifth of November is Guy Fawkes' Night or Bonfire Night. This is a British festivity. The story of Guy Fawkes goes back to the early 1600s. During this period there were religious problems between Protestants and Catholics in Britain. King James I was a Protestant and he passed severe laws against Catholics. They were not permitted to have religious services. A group of 12 Catholics decided to kill the King James I and destroy the Parliament Building. They planned to blow up The Houses of Parliament on 5 November 1605, when the King was present. This was called the Gunpowder Plot. The leader of the plot was Robert Catesby. The plotters put 30 barrels of explosives in the cellar under the Parliament Building.

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Guy Fawkes was an expert with explosives. His responsability was to guard the barrels of explosives and light the fuse on 5 November. The Kings soldiers discovered the plot. Guy Fawkes was immediately arrested and tortured. The other plotters were found three days later. Guy Fawkes and the others were hanged. On the night of 5 November 1605 many people in London were very happy because the plot was discovered. To celebrate they started bonfires in the street. Someone made an effigy of Guy Fawkes and burned it. Every since the British have celebrated Guy Fawkes' Night.. The celebrating of "Bonfire" or "Guy Fawkes' Night" is well established in England. These days are an excuse to let off fireworks and have a good time. Its origins are all but forgotten, although everyone knows of Guy Fawkes and the rough outline of the story.

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