You may share our passion for travel, exploration, and learning about how other people live around the world. While you can learn a lot about a culture from the art forms practiced by its artisans, handicrafts are just one piece of the cultural pie.
As we approach the holiday season in North America, we thought it would be fun to reflect on how holidays are celebrated around other countries in the world throughout the year. You might find inspiration for new ways to celebrate, or find yourself compelled to travel to these countries someday!
Celebrating Eid Al Adha in Morocco
To learn a little about holidays in Morocco, we asked our Country Manager Idriss how he celebrates Eid Al Adha. Eid Al Adha is a holiday celebrated in many Muslim communities around the world. It marks the beginning of Ramadan, a month-long form of fasting, where people only eat and drink before sunrise and after sundown. It’s celebrated according to the lunar calendar, so its celebration date varies from year to year. A similar celebration occurs after Ramadan, called Eid Al Fitr.
According to Idriss,
“Eid Al Adha is the main celebration in the Islamic world, also known as the festival of sacrifice. In Eid, Muslims sacrifice sheep following the tradition of Abraham. During the holy days, Muslims all over the world salute everyone on the streets and wish them happy Eid, and welcome their neighbors, acquaintances, or even random people to their houses and serve them tea and cookies as well as meat if they want it. In my region we always have couscous on the first day of Eid. It’s the only time of the year where you can meet everyone in your little community, because they all come back to celebrate with their family. People talk, bond, and feast together. Everyone is friendly and they tend to help each other, especially poorer people in the community.”
Celebrating Diwali in India
In India, Diwali is one of the major holidays celebrated across the continent. It’s also known as the “Festival of Lights” for the dazzling array of candles and lamps that light up nearly every city.
Diwali is celebrated by many of India’s faiths at the same time. Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists have their own specific traditions associated with the five-day holiday. Though Diwali celebrates different events in the histories of various faiths, many aspects of the celebration are similar across India.
Diwali is generally celebrated sometime from October to November, in accordance with the lunar calendar. The name comes from the Sanskrit word dipavali, which means “row of lights”. People celebrate by decorating their homes and temples with candles and oil lamps. They also float these candles down rivers, making for a mesmerizing visual display. People visit each other’s homes and exchange gifts and sweets. The fourth day of Diwali is considered the beginning of a new year.
Celebrating Dia de los Muertos in Mexico
On the other side of the world, in Mexico, there’s a celebration some of you may be familiar with: Día de los Muertos. Translated as “Day of the Dead”, this multi-day holiday commemorates the passing of loved ones and their spiritual journey onwards. The celebratory mood comes from the belief that, on this day, lost loved ones awaken and celebrate with the living.
This celebration has roots that extend back thousands of years. Traditionally, it was celebrated in the summer, but after Spanish colonization, it was moved to November 1st and the days around it to coincide with All Saints Day.
According to Pamela, our Mexico Country Manager,
“Day of the Dead is different in every city in Mexico. The food and traditions change depending on where you are. In Yucatan we focus on sharing the food, and it’s more about the spiritual aspect of family members who have passed. There is one place where they fill boats with candles and flowers, or take food and go to eat in the cemeteries. We celebrate death.”
In general, the holiday has a very social and festive atmosphere: people gather in large groups to commemorate the dead, march in public places, and hold festivals with live music and dancing. Many celebrations incorporate a beautiful mix of both indigenous Aztec and Spanish influences.
One central part of the celebration are ofrendas, or altars created to celebrate the memory of a loved one. Family members typically place the deceased’s favorite foods and beverages, a picture, and a candle to welcome their loved ones back to the living world. People also lavishly decorate grave sites of loved ones, with yellow marigolds being the traditional Day of the Dead flower.
These are just a few of the holidays celebrated by the many countries GlobeIn items come from. We hope that these beautiful holiday traditions have sparked your curiosity and an appetite for discovery.
This article is part of our Maven Magazine. For more Maven Magazine articles, click here.