Fall is a season rich in tradition, culture and celebration. Full of celebrations and holidays, listed below are a few of the many different celebrations taking place during fall. Each celebration has its own unique history and diversity.
Observed by Canada and the United States, Thanksgiving is the celebration of the fall harvest and blessings of the year. It is a day to reflect on all there is to be grateful for, spending time with friends and family, while enjoying a feast containing a large variety of foods gathered from harvest. This tradition is believed to date back hundreds of years in both Canada and the United States. The United States is believed to have held Thanksgiving in retrospect to the harvest feast in 1621 between the English Colonists known as pilgrims of Plymouth and the people of Wampanoag. This is said to have started when a few pilgrims were going out to hunt for prey such as turkey, ducks and geese when they were united with some of the people of Wampanoag. Over the next few days both parties contributed to a feast, which eventually led to the sealing of a treaty between the two groups, lasting until King Philip’s War. In Canada, Thanksgiving is said to trail back to English explorer, Martin Frobisher and his crew upon reaching what is known today as Nunavut. In 1578, this crew took part in what is known as the first thanksgiving by giving thanks on their safe arrival and dining on salted beef, biscuits and peas.
Celebrated every year on October 31st, Halloween is believed to originate from a Celtic festival by the name Samhain. The Celts lived in what is considered to be present day Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern parts of France. They would celebrate their new year on November 1st, marking the end of summer’s harvest and the start of a gloomy winter the Celt’s would associate with death. They believed on the night before the new year that the world of living and dead was blurred and that ghosts of the dead could return to Earth at this time. To celebrate the occasion they would build sacred bonfires and sacrifice different plants and animals as an offering to their deities. They would wear costumes made of animal heads and skins while attempting to tell each other fortunes during the celebration. Once the celebration was over they would relight the bonfire to help protect them in the coming winter. Known originally as All Hallows Eve, to Halloween over the years Halloween traditions have changed drastically. During the present day, Halloween can be seen as a festival that revolves around trick or treating, carving pumpkins, dressing up in different costumes and telling scary stories.
Chuseok, also known as Korean thanksgiving by some, is considered to be one of the biggest holidays celebrated in South Korea. Spanning over the course of three days, Chuseok is a holiday deep in tradition that focuses on celebrating the fall harvest and spending time with family. Chuseok date is dedicated based on the Lunar calendar, being celebrated on the 15th day of the eight month each year. Based on a legend, Chuseok is said to be started from a month-long weaving contest set between two different teams. The team that wove the least amount of clothes were given the task of providing the winning team with food, drink and gifts, consequently starting the traditions we see today. However, there are others who connect the customs and practices of Chuseok to Korean history and its gratitude and significance in agriculture. This is due to the fact that many Koreans took part in a variety of rituals to give thanks to their ancestors and celebrate the harvest. Charye or an ancestor memorial service is a custom done on the first day of Chuseok. This entails gathering with family members and celebrating and honouring their ancestors with memorial services. A common food found during Chuseok is Jeon, which resembles a pancake of sorts made with fish, zucchini, sweet potatoes, etc and then coated with egg and pan fried.
Diwali is a major holiday celebrated all over India. Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit term deepavali which translates to a row of lights. Diwali is a holiday rich in tradition, with customs differing from region to region. Overall, the festival of Diwali is celebrating light over darkness. The first day is known as Dhanteras which is dedicated to cleaning your homes and environment around you. The second is called Choti Diwali and the third day marks prince Rama, his wife Sita and his brothers return to Ayodhya after 14 years. This is considered to be the main day of Diwali and full of celebrations. Some common customs of Diwali include lighting up diyas, making rangolis, lighting fireworks, wearing new clothing and eating different sweets. The fourth day is known as Govardhan puja which celebrates Krishna’s defeat Indra and is the start of the new year in the Hindu calendar. Lastly the 5th day is called Bhai Dooj which celebrates the bond of brothers and sisters. Diwali is not only celebrated in Hinduism but also has roots in Jainism and Sikhism. Some common desserts eaten during Diwali are halwa, gulab jamun, laddu, gugia, barfi, etc.
Dia de los muertos
Dia de los muertos (the day of the dead) is a Mexican holiday celebrated each year on November 1st and 2nd. Dia de los muertos is a holiday for celebrating the dead and those alive; it reunites the non-living with the living. The midnight of November 1st commences Dia de los angelitos or day of the little angels. At this time the spirits of any children who have passed are believed to connect with their families for the next 24 hours. Families of the deceased will construct an ofrenda (an atlar) containing the child’s favourite foods, toys and photos. The midnight of November 2nd dictates the start of Dia de los difuntos shifting focus to the spirits of deceased adults. Ofrendas are also made though they are catered to the memory of an adult. Families will have a meal together, share memories of those who have passed while dancing and listening to music. Lastly, the celebration is closed up with a public celebration where people will come together to decorate grave sites, take part in parades and dress up with skeletons painted on their faces. Marigolds also called Flor de muerto are used to decorate ofrendas and graves as their bright colour and scents is said to attract spirits to their homes. The painting of skulls is known as Calaveras and is seen to take many forms including sugar skulls which are then used to decorate ofrendas.
Those were just a few of the many celebrations that took place this fall. Each celebration is rich in tradition and has unique customs that make each holiday their own. Some themes that can be noticed throughout these different celebrations are harvesting and spending time with family. As this fall comes to a close, take a moment to look around and notice the different customs that are celebrated in this lovely season.