• Pete Karolczak

June 2021 - Celebrating Global Traditions

Welcome to June

We kick off June with Go Barefoot Day. After the terrible Tsunami of 2004, Soles4Souls created National Go Barefoot Day in the US with the simple goal that everyone in the world should have at least one pair of shoes. This charitable day encourages people to donate footwear, used or new, that can be given to the underprivileged people who desperately need shoes. Please join me in donating this year at https://soles4souls.org and enjoy a barefoot day!

In Borneo, the Gawai Dayak Festival this year starts on May 31st and ends on Dayak Day, June 1st. Dayak refers the multiple indigenous tribes of Borneo, but Dayak Day is a celebration of the end of harvest season. The celebration includes drinking traditional rice wine known as Tuak, accompanied by lots of music and dancing!

June 2nd is Italian Republic Day or Festa della Repubblica, is celebrated on June 2 every year. This historical day commemorates the institutional referendum of 1946 when Italians decided on the form of their government after World War II, choosing a Republic with a Constituent Assembly and sent the kingdom to exile. So, on this day, a massive celebration takes place in Rome and around the country to celebrate the birth of the modern Italian Republic.

Constitution Day in Denmark is observed on June 5 to commemorate the signing of the Danish Constitution (with four revisions also occurring on this same date). June 5 marked the birth of Danish democracy and is celebrated annually as its equivalent of a National Day.

And while our Danish friends are celebrating, June 6th has already started with Queensland Day in Australia. Queensland Day celebrates the birthday of the Australian state commemorating the struggle against British Rule and the day in 1859 when Queen Victoria granted the state the right to form its own government.

While we’re down under, festivities continue into June 7th with Western Australia Day celebrating the day Captain Charles Fremantle claimed Western Australia for the British in 1829, setting up the Swan River Colony. While the day was originally called “Foundation Day,” it has since been renamed to include all Western Australians, including aboriginal communities. WA Day takes place on the first Monday in June, falling on June 7 this year.

King Kamehameha Day, a pretty big deal in Hawaii, falls on June 11 and celebrates “Kamehameha the Great,” who is credited with uniting the Hawaiian Islands in 1810. Kamehameha is honored each year with numerous celebrations across the islands. I feel it’s my responsibility as a global citizen to visit Hawaii as soon as I can – for research purposes, of course.

While we’re in the Pacific Ocean, let’s return to a country very close to my heart no later than June 12th so we can celebrate Independence Day in the Philippines. The Philippines first declared independence from Spanish rule over 120 years ago, but it wasn’t until 1962 that President Diosdado Macapagal made it a public holiday through a presidential proclamation.

You’ll have to travel to the small town of Dan Sai in the mountains of northeast Thailand to experience the amazing three-day ghost festival Phi Ta Khon on June 12th - 14th. This celebration honors the spirits in the community, starting on the first day with masked and costumed performers parading through the streets to pay respect to the river spirit. On day two, a smaller parade is followed by fireworks and rockets to encourage the rain to fall. On day three, the festival concludes with sermons given by the local Buddhist monks.

50 years ago on June 16, 1971, more than 20,000 South African students in the township of Soweto took to the streets, demanding to be taught in their own language. Confrontation ensued and hundreds of young protesters were killed by the South African Police. Now a public holiday in South Africa, referred to as Youth Day, June 16th is also recognized as International Day of the African Childthroughout the world.

Dating back to 1944, Iceland’s National Day on June 17th was chosen to coincide with the birthday of Jon Sigurosson, the leader of the 20th century Icelandic Independence Movement. June is a wonderful time to visit this amazing island, so time your trip appropriately and you can join Icelanders and other visitors in Reykjavik to watch parades, catch street performances and concerts and of course try all the traditional food under the glorious mountain backdrops!

June 19th, known as Juneteenth, is a very important day in the US, celebrating the freedom of African Americans from slavery in the U.S. in 1865. Juneteenth is made up of the words ‘June’ and ‘nineteenth,’ and it is on this day that Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Texas more than 155 years ago to inform slaves that slavery had been abolished. Over 150 years later, it’s clear that we still have a lot of work to do in the US to achieve racial equity and Juneteenth also symbolizes that goal.

June 20th is Father’s Day in many countries around the world (though not all) typically on the third Sunday of the month (at least since 1910), celebrating Dads in all forms!

Canada’s National Indigenous Peoples Day recognizes the many achievements of the country’s Indigenous peoples, celebrating the distinct cultures and unique traditions of these native communities. Do you know the three Indigenous peoples in Canada? Join me in celebrating the Inuit, First Nations, and Metis this June 21st!

I didn’t realize June has so many holidays and traditions – if only the days were longer so we can celebrate more!

Thankfully, June 21st is the Summer Solistice! People have celebrated this day for thousands of years, including the ancient Mesopotamians, Celtic Druids, Chinese, and Egyptians; But as this is the longest day of the year (and the shortest night), Solstice marks the pinnacle of the Sun’s power to fuel the growing season. From here on out, the Sun will set a little earlier each night until Yule, so we recognize and give thanks for its warmth. Litha is the name given to the Wiccan Sabbat celebrated at the Summer Solstice. Though it’s typically celebrated on June 21st, the exact moment of the Summer Solstice varies from year to year. This is due to a slight misalignment between the Gregorian calendar and the actual rate of the Earth’s rotation around the Sun.

One of the goals of sharing Global Traditions is to remind us of the obvious – namely that it’s not Summer in half of the globe – so don’t forget that some of our friends and colleagues are celebrating the Winter Solstice on this day!

Starting on June 22nd, Inti Raymi, or Festival of the Sun, is a nine-day celebration of the Winter Solstice in the Andean villages of Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Ecuador. Inti Raymi pays homage to the Inca god Inti with colorful reenactments of the Incas, beating drums, street fairs, stage performances, parades and some of the best food you will ever have (in case you’ve never visited this part of the world)!

Let’s stay in South America a little while longer so we can enjoy the celebration of Boi Bumba in the Amazonian island-city of Parintins, Brazil from June 23rd - 25th. This festival is based on a Brazilian folk story describing a bull that is brought back to life by a shaman after a man is caught for stealing and killing it for his pregnant wife. Tens of thousands of revelers come to see the story recreated by costumed performers and giant puppets, accompanied by dancers in elaborate feathered headdresses, reflecting the region’s Amazonian, Portuguese and Catholic culture.

Meanwhile, June 24th marks a national holiday in the Canadian province of Quebec celebrates Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, honoring the birth of St. John the Baptist. The religious nature of the holiday has been de-emphasized for civic events, and “la St-Jean” is now mainly a celebration of francophone culture and history filled with public events, parades, barbecues, picnics and fireworks.

Starting at dawn on June 27th this year, the 17th of Tammuz in the Jewish calendar is the tragic start to the “Three Weeks;” a period of solemnity beginning with a day of fasting commemorating the breach of the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of the Second Temple. It falls on the 17th day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz and marks the beginning of the three-week mourning period leading up to Tisha B'Av.

We wrap up a busy month on June 30 with International Asteroid Day and assuming Asteroid Day isn’t prophetic, we’ll see you again next month! Until then, I hope you’re all planning your next global adventure as much as the pandemic allows!


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