September 2021 - Global Traditions
Many of you enjoyed learning about the origins of August, so let’s keep the educational content going! September comes from the Latin root septem-, meaning “seven,” because in the original Roman calendar, it was the seventh month of the year… how can that be? Well, the original Roman calendar only had 10 months!
Once again, September, like July and August, celebrates National Days and Independence Days in many nations around the world. If you know somebody from any of these countries, impress them with your knowledge while you celebrate with them!
2nd Independence Day in Vietnam
3rd Independence Day in Qatar
6th Independence Day in Swaziland
7th Independence Day in Brazil
8th National Day in Andorra
9th Independence Day in Tajikistan and in North Korea
15th Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua...
16th Mexico, New Guinea, and Malaysia...
17th and in the Marshall Islands
18th Independence Day in Chile!
19th and in Saint Kitts
21st in Malta, Belize
22nd and Mali
23rd Independence Day in Armenia and National Day in Saudi Arabia
24th Republic Day in Guinea and Trinidad & Tobago; Constitution Day in Cambodia
28th National Day in Yemen
29th Constitution Day in Brunei
30th Independence Day in Botswana and Nauru
September 2nd is recognized as the end of WWII with the surrender of the Imperial Japanese army to the Allied forces and Victory in the Pacific (also called VJ Day). Though the official surrender occurred two weeks earlier, the official day commemorates the official signing and end to the war.
September 6th is Labor Day in the US (May 1st in most other nations around the world) and is celebrated on first Monday of every September. Like its international equivalent, Labor Day recognizes the men and women who work. Labor Day also signals the official end of summer. With the school year starting and summer (at least in the northern hemisphere) winding down, the long weekend is the final bridge back to reality.
Rosh Hashanah falls on September 6th (through the 8th) this year and commemorates the creation of the world and marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, a 10-day period of introspection and repentance that culminates in the Yom Kippur (starting on September 15th).
I didn’t want to break up the explanation of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur but falling in between those important periods is Star Trek Day on September 8th – the anniversary of the first televised Star Trek episode, “The Man Trap” which first aired on this day in1966. For the Trekkies in the audience, you surely know it was not the first episode to be filmed however!
The United States will never forget September 11th, 2001 – when a coordinated series of terrorist strikes included the hijacking and crashing of civilian airplanes into the World Trade Center North and South Towers, the Pentagon and a fourth crashing into a field in Pennsylvania. This terrible day 20 years ago this year is forever memorialized with the Memorial Museum located at ground zero in New York. It is a powerful, emotional place to visit but strongly recommended.
Hindi Diwas is observed on September 14, every year. Hindi is the fourth most spoken language in the world after English, Spanish and Mandarin and one of the most widely spoken languages in India, with most of North India celebrating the language as their mother tongue. Every year on Hindi Diwas, the President of India presents the Rajbhasha awards to honor contribution towards the language.
Yom Kippur is the holiest, most important day of the year in Judaism, known as the “Day of Atonement.” It begins at sundown Wednesday, September 15th and ends Thursday evening, September 16th. Yom means “day” in Hebrew, and Kippur means to atone (Day of Atonement). Throughout the 10 Days of Awe (Repentance) leading up to Yom Kippur, those practicing Judaism have been reflecting on the personal aspects of the past year, deciding how to improve, seeking forgiveness and showing compassion to others. Traditionally, the belief is that after judging a person by their deeds over the last year, God decides who will be sealed in the Book of Life (to live for another year) and who will die.
Did you know that the 19th of Septemberrrrrgh is International Talk Like a Pirate Day?
Okay, time for a little astronomy and an explanation of why this time of the year is so important around the globe. The September Equinox (or southward equinox) marks the time of the year when the Sun crosses the abstract projection of the earths’ physical equator known as the “celestial equator,” heading southward. Like its Spring opposite, the Autumnal Equinox marks the point in the calendar at which the length of night and day are almost equal. Many countries and cultures across the planet celebrate this time of year:
Starting on Monday, the 20th, Sukkot commemorates the years that the Jews spent in the desert on their way to the Promised Land and celebrates the way in which God protected them under difficult desert conditions. Sukkot is also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Feast of Booths.
September 21st this year marks the beginning of the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated across East Asia. In China, it's a reunion time for families, just like Thanksgiving, while in Vietnam, it's more like a children's day. The Mid-Autumn Festival is also called the Moon Festival or the Mooncake Festival. It traditionally falls on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese lunar calendar and time to eat lots of wonderful mooncakes! All my friends in Singapore know how much I love my Durian Mooncakes!
On the same day, Chuseok or Hangawi celebrates a good harvest in both South and North Korea and a chance for Koreans to visit their ancestral hometowns and share traditional food and rice wine!
In Europe, the Autumn Equinox includes the Harvest Festival in the UK, Dożynki in the Slavic countries and of course, the most famous of all….
The Oktoberfest usually starts in September (despites its name) coinciding with the Autumn Equinox. Sadly (but appropriately), the Oktoberfest is cancelled again this year. Despites its origin in Munich, Germany, the Oktoberfest has become a global tradition! I lived in Germany many years and despite the crowds and chaos, I loved it!
Mabon is a pagan or Wiccan harvest festival which is celebrated during the Autumn Equinox (on the 22nd this year) and is a time to give thanks to Mother Earth for the bounty she provides and a time to rest after bringing in the crops. It is also the second holiday on the Wheel of the Year, which includes other harvest festivals such as Lammas and Samhain.
And did you know this was also the first day of the (short-lived) French Revolutionary calendar, which was created and implemented during the French and used by the French government between late 1793 and 1805 with the goal of removing all religious and royalist influences from the calendar?
Though it will be celebrated next month (October 2nd), the Persian Festival of Autumn or Mehregān is also associated with the Autumn Equinox.
September 21st also marks the International Day of Peace - a worldwide holiday dedicated to peace among all people. There are calls for a global ceasefire and no violence in active combat zones, while simultaneous discussions occur on how to promote peaceful solutions.
September 27th (ending on the 28th) is Arbaeen, a national holiday in several Islamic countries and historically includes extremely large pilgrimages and gatherings in Iran, Iraq and many other countries. It is observed on the 40th day after Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad. Arbaeen means forty in Arabic, as forty days is the traditional length of mourning after the death of a family member or loved one in Muslim traditions.
Confucius’ Birthday is celebrated on September 28th. It is also officially celebrated in Taiwan as Teachers’ Day and in Hong Kong (on the third Sunday of September) as "Confucius Day", though the traditional celebration on the 28th is most common.
Only 30 days hath September, so enjoy it!