Which are the world's largest festivals to come

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Published 2020-08-11 11:00

Assumption Day will be celebrated in many countries around the world on August 15th. In general, this festival is marked by a traditional mass and processions are organised by parishes, followed by a family meal and fireworks. Assumption Day is also a public holiday in many Catholic countries, especially in Europe. Although celebrations will be different this year with the COVID-19 crisis, here is an insight into the biggest festivals that will be observed in the coming weeks and months. While this might enrich your cultural knowledge, you can also seize the opportunity to spend some quality time with your dear ones even though they are far away.

Ganesh Chaturthi, Navaratri and Divali

The Hindu calendar is full of religious and traditional festivals, Ganesh Chaturthi or the birthday of the Elephant-headed Hindu god and Navaratri are the most popular. During Ganesh Chaturthi, statues of the lord, made of clay, are consecrated for ten days in Hindu homes, not only in India but in countries where there are Indian expat communities. The last day starts by a joyful procession to the sound of drums, songs and traditional dances by the devotees who are usually dressed in bright traditional clothes. Statues are immersed in lakes, rivers or at sea. Quite similar, Navaratri commemorates the victory of the goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura. It is generally celebrated in October. During nine nights, representations of the goddess are consecrated before immersion. Divali or the "Festival of Lights" is celebrated either at the end of October or in early November, depending on the lunar calendar, as the two festivals mentioned. Divali commemorates the return of the god Rama and his wife Sita after his victory against the demon Ravana. To celebrate Divali, Indian families decorate their homes and yards with oil lamps, candles and garland lights. Sweets are also shared with relatives, friends and neighbours who usually get together for fireworks.

Eid

Besides Eid-Ul-Fitr which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Eid-Ul-Adha is the second-most important holiday in Islam—celebrated in early August this year by Muslims around the world. Eid-Ul-Adha commemorates the sacrifice of Abraham. A lamb is sacrificed, and a part of it is offered to the guests, while another is distributed among the poor. The Muslim wear new clothes and take part in prayers that are followed by a family meal. Gifts are also offered to children.

Yom Kippur

On September 27th, the Jewish community around the world will be celebrating Yom Kippur or the "Day of Atonement". It is one of the most important dates in the Jewish calendar and is celebrated in prayer. Before Yom Kippur, Jews observe a 10-day fasting period and practice abstinence from many things. Also, during these ten days, they do not work. On the eve of the festival, candles are lit as from sunset and preserved until the next day.

Thanksgiving and Halloween

On October 31st, everyone puts on their ghost, witch, vampire, or monster disguise for Halloween. Houses, yards and streets are decorated and illuminated. For dinner, there is pumpkin soup, as well as pumpkin-flavoured cookies in the shape of monsters. Children tour the neighbourhood in small groups to collect candy. The welcoming homeowners let them choose between "trick or treat". Halloween is becoming increasingly popular in many countries with all age groups. Halloween parties are also organised, even though you might not be able to enjoy them this year. The next day, November 1st, is All Saints Day followed by the Day of the Dead on November 2nd. On that day, the graves of the deceased are flowered, and candles are lit. In Mexico, Dia de Muertos is celebrated more festively. Mexican families make altars for their deceased family members at their homes, where they place offerings such as flowers, candles, familiar objects, and even food.

Celebrated in the United States during the last week of November, Thanksgiving is also popular in countries like Canada and Lebanon. Thanksgiving originates from the arrival of the first European settlers in America in 1621, and translates into a hearty family meal, as you've probably seen in many American movies. Turkey stuffed with apples, sausages or oysters and served with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, or a squash, corn and green bean gratin are served for dinner.

Christmas and end of year celebrations

Christmas and end of year celebrations need no introduction. In Europe, especially in the United Kingdom, shops and supermarkets are decorated from the end of October and Christmas songs are played on repeat mode. Christmas trees are up in November, and everything becomes magical. Streets are also decorated with all kinds of garland lights. Many families usually take vacations and travel during this period. In the USA, for example, amusement parks, beaches and shopping malls are usually full, whether for some fun time, shopping or eating out.

Tips

Even though the COVID-19 crisis has brought about uncertainty, you can still celebrate the festivals mentioned in this article during your stay abroad. However, it is highly recommended that you wear a mask, wash your hands regularly and maintain social distancing. What if you usually travel back to your home country for holidays during the festive season. You can still rely on social media and on apps like Whatsapp, Zoom and Google Meet to keep in touch with your dear ones. Why don't you plan an e-dinner?