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All Souls’ Day

allsoulsdayNovember 2 is All Souls’ Day, also know as Commemoration of All Faithful Departed. It is a day originally dedicated to praying for the deceased who are trapped in Purgatory in an effort to help them move on in the afterlife. It has since evolved into a day for honoring and remembering all those dearly departed.

The day was first celebrated during the Easter season around Pentacost, and was later moved to follow All Saints’ Day which honors all those faithful in heaven on November 1. All Souls’ Day was instituted on November 2 sometime in the tenth century by Abbot Odilo in a monastery in Cluny to pray for those poor souls in Purgatory. It soon became a popular tradition and spread throughout the Christian world. It wasn’t until Medieval times when Europeans began to combine All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day that records of many traditions that have come into existence were recorded. Though All Souls’ Day has primarily become known as a Roman Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox holy day in which formal masses are held, it is still informally celebrated by some Protestants.

Two plenary indulgences are usually attached to All Souls’ Day, and they are visiting a church and visiting a cemetery. The prayer and almsgiving efforts of those observing All Souls’ Day in this way are performed by the living, but the merits of these indulgences are applicable to the souls in Purgatory.

Veneration of dead ancestors has been a custom practiced worldwide through different events like the Chinese Ghost Festival, the Japanese Bon Festival, the Roman Lemuria or the Mexican Day of the Dead. It is believed by some that the origin of All Souls’ Day in European folklore came about through the practice of these customs.

Sugar Skulls are a well-known symbol of Day of the Dead.

Sugar Skulls are a well-known symbol of Day of the Dead.

The Mexican Day of the Dead can be traced back to Aztecs and other pre-Hispanic civilizations, 3000 years ago. Skulls were collected for rituals to represent rebirth and death. Known as “Dia de los Muertos” to Latin communities, Day of the Dead is one of the more prominent All Souls’ Day celebrations in America due to the parades, festivals, and other large gatherings Latin American communities participate in. These festivities are often marked by the elaborate costumes, make-up, and skull face paint known to adorn the celebrators. They also make elaborate decorations and altars or ofrendas at home to honor their lost loved ones. Offerings in the form of flowers (traditionally orange Mexican marigolds), food (shaped or decorated to mimic symbols of death), candles, and other gifts are often placed on altars or graves of the deceased. It is a widely popular belief that on this day, the dead return to earth to visit their families and friends. A door or window is often left open for the dead, and some even leave extra plates at their dinner tables for the deceased.

No matter how you choose to celebrate All Souls’ Day, it is meant to be a celebration and remembrance of the life and death of those we have lost.

Sources: Wikipedia, timeanddate.com, About.com

 

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Fire Prevention Day

October 9 is Fire Prevention Day!

Fire Prevention Day was established in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. As the story goes, a cow kicked over a lantern in a barn owned by Patrick and Catherine O’Leary, starting a fire that lasted from October 8 to October 10, 1871. The Great Chicago Fire killed hundreds of people and burned down over 3 miles of land in Illinois.

The first Fire Prevention Day was held 40 years after the incident with the aim of educating people on fire safety and steps to take in the unfortunate event of a fire. In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson announced Fire Prevention Week with the same goal.

Sources: Yahoo! Voices, Holiday Insights

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When is Columbus Day in 2013?

October 14, 2013

Learn more about Columbus Day.

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World Day for Farm Animals

October 2 is World Day for Farm Animals!

Founded in 1983, this holiday sets out to expose the cruelty that many animals raised on farms for slaughter endure. October 2 was chosen as World Day for Farm Animals because it aligns with Mahatma Ghandi’s birthday, who advocated for the improved treatment of animals.

Each year, 65 Billion animals are killed for food, many of which suffer confinement and mutilation on factory farms. You can help end the suffering by staying informed and educating others on the ill-treatment of farm animals worldwide.

Sources: Day for Animals, PETA

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When is Rosh Hashanah in 2013?

September 5, 2013

Learn more about Rosh Hashanah.

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When is Labor Day in 2013?

September 2, 2013

Learn more about Labor Day.

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When is Eid al-Fitr in 2013?

August 8, 2013

Learn more about Eid al-fitr.

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When does Ramadan begin in 2013?

July 9, 2013

Learn more about Ramadan.

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Armed Forces Day

Armed Forces Day is always celebrated on the third Saturday in May. In 2013, Armed Forces Day falls on May 18.

Armed Forces Day was established in 1949 as a way to unify all sectors of the United States Armed Forces. It is a holiday for American citizens to come together and show appreciation for all members of our military and pay tribute to soldiers in the Army, Air Force, Marines, and Navy.

If you know or happen to come across a member of our military – remember to thank them for their service and support today.

Sources: Defense.gov, Wikipedia

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When is Memorial Day in 2013

May 27, 2013

Learn more about Memorial Day.

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