Monday, May 25, 2009

African Methodist Quarterly Meeting Day

The Big August Quarterly of the African Union Methodist Protestant Church takes place annually in Wilmington, Delaware. It honors the establishment of the A.U.M.P. Church in 1813 as the ‘‘Mother Church’’ for African Americans. The first independent black congregation in Wilmington was started by an influential black religious leader named Peter Spencer, who, along with 41 like-minded African Americans, left the town’s Asbury Methodist Church in 1805 because its white members refused to let them participate fully in the services. In the years before the Civil War the Big August Quarterly drew slaves from all around, who obtained special passes permitting them to attend the weekend of gospel music, impassioned preaching, and family get-togethers.
Its founders modeled the Big August Quarterly on the quarterly meetings held by Quakers. Many thousands of people from Delaware and its neighboring states came to these stirring religious festivals. Although it no longer draws the crowds it used to, the Big August Quarterly has undergone a resurgence in recent years. It features soul food, musical entertainment, and an opportunity for people to reminisce about the Big August Quarterlies of the past.

FolkAmerHol-1999, p. 350 RelHolCal-2004, p. 100

African Liberation Day

While other holidays seek to commemorate the events and achievements of the past, African Liberation Day focuses attention on a goal that has not yet been fully realized: the liberation of all African people. The observance of this day can be traced back to April 15, 1958, when the Conference of Independent African States was held in Accra, Ghana. Attendees declared April 15 African Freedom Day, and between 1958 and 1963 this observance was supported by leaders worldwide, including President John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Senator Hubert Humphrey in the United States.
As British and European colonies in Africa continued to win their independence during the 1950s and 60s, and as the civil rights movement in the United States began to achieve some success, 31 independent African countries met on May 25, 1963, to form the Organization of African Unity. They changed the name and the date of what now became African Liberation Day. In 1999 the group reorganized into the African Union.
Today, observances worldwide include marches, parades, rallies, and conferences. These events focus on celebrating freedom from colonialism, educating people about the progress of the African liberation movement, and speaking out against oppression. There are also sporting contests and tribal dances, particularly in Chad, Zambia, and other African states where it is a public holiday.

African Union
P.O. Box 3243
Addis Ababa W21K19 Ethiopia 011-251-1-51-7700; fax: 011-251-1-51-7844

Africa Malaria Day

Africa Malaria Day is sponsored by an international organization called Roll Back Malaria, whose members include representatives from the World Health Organization, UNI-CEF, the United Nations, the World Bank, and various member countries, organizations, and agencies. The goal of this organization is to reduce the worldwide number of Malaria cases by one half by the year 2010.
Malaria kills about 3,000 people a day, which adds up to about 1,000,000 people per year. Most of these people are children, and nine out of ten of them live in sub-Saharan Africa.
Africa Malaria Dayis a day dedicatedtoraising public awareness about malaria prevention and treatment, as well as the economic and social toll the disease takes on poor countries. Activities include special media campaigns, demonstrations of the proper use of treated mosquito netting, lectures about the disease, and other educational events. Roll Back Malaria chose April 25 as the date of their newly created holiday in order to commemorate the April 25, 2000, Summit on Malaria, held in Abuja, Nigeria. The first Africa Malaria Day was held the following year in 2001. The United Nations has declared 2001-2010 as the Decade to Roll Back Malaria.

World Health Organization Ave. Appia 20 Geneva 27 1211 Switzerland 011-41-22-791-21-11; fax: 011-41-22-791-3111

Advent in Germany

Many German households observe Advent with an Advent wreath. Traditionally fashioned from a fir branch entwined with gold and silver ribbons or bits of red thread, the wreaths also contain holders for four candles. German families dis-play the wreath on a tabletop or suspend it from the ceiling. One candle is lit on each of the Sundays in Advent. An old Roman Catholic tradition called for lighting the candles on Saturday instead. Many German households light a ‘‘Star of Seven,’’ a seven-branched candelabrum, on Christmas Eve, and at midnight carry the lit ‘‘star’’ though the dark to the village church for the Christmas Eve service.

BkFestHolWrld-1970, p. 128 EncyChristmas-2003, pp. 3, 6,
7, 10, 276 FestWestEur-1958, p. 79 FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 680 OxYear-1999, p. 598

Friday, May 22, 2009


From the Sunday closest to November 30 to December 24 in West; from November 15 to December 24 in East

The Advent season marks the beginning of the Christian year in Western Christianity. Its length varies from 22 to 28 days, beginning on the Sunday nearest St. Andrew’s Day and encompassing the next three Sundays, ending on Christmas Eve.
In the Roman Catholic Church and those of the Anglican Communion the third Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday, from the first word of the introit, ‘‘Rejoice.’’ Rosecolored vestments may replace the purple, and flowers may be on the altar. Originally a period of reflection and penitence in preparation for Christmasin much the same way that Lent is in preparation for EasterAdvent has sometimes been referred to as the Winter Lent. But over time the restrictions of Advent have become greatly relaxed. Today it is usually associated with the Advent calendars that parents give their children to help them count the days until Christmas.
In Orthodox (Eastern) Christianity, the church year begins on September 1, and Advent begins on November 15. The Advent fast is called the Little Lent, because it’s shorter than the Great Lent preceding Easter.

AmerBkDays-2000, p. 802
BkFestHolWrld-1970, p. 127
DaysCustFaith-1957, p. 302
DictWrldRel-1989, pp. 5, 154, 175
EncyChristmas-2003, pp. 3, 7, 8, 10
EncyRel-1987, v. 3, p. 441
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 680
OxYear-1999, p. 598
RelHolCal-2004, pp. 83, 115
SaintFestCh-1904, p. xiii

Admission Day

Many American states celebrate the anniversary of their admission to the Union by observing a public holiday on or near the actual day. Sometimes the day is referred to by the name of the state as in Colorado Day, Indiana Day, Nevada Day, or West Virginia Day and is marked by special celebrations. Other states let the anniversary of their admission pass unnoticed. In Vermont, Admission Day coincides with Town Meeting Day.
For a listing of all states, see Appendix A.

Administrative Professionals Week

Professional Secretaries Week was started in 1952 by Profes-sional Secretaries International—now called the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP)—an organization devoted to the education and professional devel-opment of secretaries, executive assistants, information specialists, and office managers. It takes place during the last full week in April, with Administrative Professionals Day observed on Wednesday. Many IAAP chapters sponsor spe-cial events throughout the week—such as educational semi-nars or luncheons with guest speakers for secretaries and their bosses—but Wednesday is the day when managers and executives are supposed to give their office support staff a special token of their appreciation.
How do secretaries want to be recognized on this day? Ac-cording to the 2001 IAAP survey, most of them want com-pany-wide special events or training and educational ses-sions. What do they get? Lunch is the most common form of recognition, followed by flowers or other gifts.

International Association of Administrative Professionals
10502 N.W. Ambassador Dr.
P.O. Box 20404
Kansas City, MO 64195-0404
816-891-6600; fax: 816-891-9118

Adelaide Fringe Festival

Originating in the 1970s as an innovative, cutting-edge alter-native to the established Adelaide Festival, the Adelaide Fringe today enjoys a synergistic relationship with its sister festival, contributing to the vibrant atmosphere of this Aus-tralian city during the autumn months. Held biennially for a three-week period, the Fringe features the latest in the underground and experimental arts created by independent artists from Australia, Europe, and the United States. The program includes comedy, dance, film, music, physical the-ater, dramatic theater, and visual arts. Audience attendance in 2002 was nearly 200,000, making the Adelaide Fringe one of the largest and most popular arts festivals in the world.

Adelaide Fringe
P.O. Box 3242
Rundle Mall
265 Rundle St., 1st Fl.
Adelaide, South Australia 5000 Australia
011-61-8-8100-2000; fax: 011-61-8-8100-2020

Adelaide Festival

Adelaide, South Australia, metamorphosed from an isolated, culturally deprived city to a major center of art and culture worldwide, thanks to a group of visionary businessmen who originated this biennial festival of the arts in 1960. In 2004 the Adelaide Festival program included more than 50 per-formances, exhibitions, and workshops in dance, music, film, theater, opera, and the visual arts, featuring artists from all over the world. A writers’ week is also featured. Events in the festival take place in the Festival Theatre, parks, churches, the Adelaide Town Hall, and other locations.

See also Adelaide Fringe Festival

Adelaide Festival
P.O. Box 8116
Station Arcade
105 Hindley St.
Adelaide, South Australia 5000
Australia 011-61-8-8216-4444; fax: 011-61-8-8216-4455

Adar Parab

Adar Parab is one of the "sacred name days" in the Zororas-trian calendar, where the name of the day and the name of the month coincide. Adar, the spiritual being or yazata for whom both the day and the month are named, presides over fire and is associated with light and warmth. Parsis—as the Zoroastrians living in India are called—traditionally give their household fires a rest on this day by not cooking and by offering special prayers. It is also customary to recite the portion of the Avesta (Zoroastrian sacred writings) known as the Atash Niyayesh, ‘‘Fire Litany.’’
Fire is the most important symbol for the followers of Zoroas-ter (also known as Zarathushtra), a Persian religious leader believed to have lived around 1200 B.C. They have fire tem-ples where fires burn constantly, as well as fires that are kindled in prayer halls and private homes for special services performed outside the temple.
The Zoroastrian calendar has 12 months of 30 days each, plus five extra days at the end of the year. Because of discrep-ancies in the calendars used by widely separated Zoroastrian communities around the world, there are now three different calendars in use, and the 9th of Adar can fall either in March, April, or November.

DictWrldRel-1989, p. 829 RelHolCal-2004, p. 68

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pilgrimage to Adam's Peak

A footprint preserved in stone is a sacred site at the top of a mountain in Dalhousie, Sri Lanka. Depending on one’s religious tradition, the footprint belongs to Adam (Muslim), the Buddha, St. Thomas (Christian), or Lord Shiva (Hindu). Pilgrims have made the climb for over 1,000 years.
There are two routes to the summit of Adam’s Peak, one of which takes about three hours while the other takes seven hours. Though the terrain is rugged, many pilgrims make the ascent by the light of lanterns so they can arrive at the break of dawn and catch a spectacular view of the western coastline. According to local tradition, a woman who reaches the top will be reincarnated as a man.

Living Heritage Trust of Sri
Lanka 38, Third Floor Galle Face Court 2 Colombo-3, Sri Lanka


This is the highlight of the ceremonial year among the Ashanti people in Ghana. Adae-Kese commemorates the day on which priest Okomfo Anokye called down from heaven the Ashantis’ Golden Stool. Elaborate stools are important fixtures in Ashanti culture. When someone passes away, that person’s stool is treasured by his or her survivors and honored periodically. The Golden Stool is that of King Osei Tutu, the founder of the Ashanti kingdom.
During the Adae-Kese festival, people clean their ancestral stools and offer food to the gods and ancestors. The current king and the Golden Stool sit in state, while people from the community and, often, the president of Ghana pay homage to him. All of this takes place in Kumasi, where the king’s palace is located. The museum there houses a second, copycat golden stool used to deceive the British, who demanded that the stool be turned over to them after hearing that it was the source of the Ashanti king’s powers.
The Adae festival is held every 40 days throughout the year, but the January celebration is the largest and most important.

Ghana Tourist Board P.O. Box 3106 Accra, Ghana
011-233-21-222153; fax: 011-233-21-231779

Acadiens, Festivals

A combination of several festivals (food, music, crafts, and more) to celebrate Cajun culture in Lafayette, La., known as the capital of French Louisiana. When they were expelled from Nova Scotia by the British in the 1770s, the French Acadian farmers settled in the area around Lafayette in a region of 22 parishes that came to be known as Acadiana. The word ‘‘Cajun’’ comes from Acadian.
One part of the celebration is the Bayou Food Festival, which offers a range of Cajun cooking from crawfish gumbo to alligator sausage to corn maque-chou. The Louisiana Crafts Festival features handmade Cajun crafts and demonstrations by blacksmiths, decoy carvers, alligator skinners, and story-tellers. The Festival de Musique Acadienne features centu-ries-old music sung in French. Modern crafts are also on exhibit, and lectures and workshops on the Acadian language and history are part of the weekend.

Lafayette Convention & Visitors
Commission P.O. Box 52066 Lafayette, LA 70505 800-346-1958 (US); 800-543-5340 (Canada) or 337-232-3737; Fax:

Acadian Festival

The Madawaska Territory, which at one time ran along the Canadian border between Maine and New Brunswick, was settled by a small group of farmers who were chased out of Acadia by the English in the late 18th century. As the settlements grew, they were separated into Canadian and American communities, with Edmundston on the Canadian side and Madawaska and St. David on the American side of the St. John River.
In 1978 the local historical society in Madawaska proclaimed June 28 as Acadian Day in the state of Maine, and since that time it has been the site of an Acadian (or French-Canadian) festival lasting anywhere from one day to a week. Regular events include French music and dancing, an Acadian Sup-per featuring pot en pot and fougere, a parade with bands and marching units from both Maine and Canada, and an Acadian mass followed by a procession to the white marble cross that marks the site of the original Acadian settlement. The festival usually coincides with a reunion of the original 13 families who settled here.

Madawaska Chamber of Commerce 363 Main St., Ste. 101 P.O. Box 144 Madawaska, ME 04756 207-728-7000; fax: 207-728-4696

Acadian Day

The original Acadians were 17th-century French colonists who settled in the area known as Acadia, which covered what is now Nova Scotia as well as Prince Edward Island, and parts of northern Maine and Quebec. Their French-speaking descendants in the Maritime Provinces continue to honor their heritage by holding many local Acadian Day celebra-tions, usually during the summer months.
Fifty thousand people attend the Acadian Festival in Cara-quet, New Brunswick, the largest of these celebrations. The festival takes place for 14 days in August each year and includes Acadian dance performances, cabaret, and concerts as well as sporting contests and a blessing of the fleet. The highlight of the festival is "L’Acadie en Fete," a huge celebra-tion involving Acadian musicians, singers, artists, and actors.

Festival Acadien de Caraquet 220 boul. St-Pierre Ouest, bureau
312 Caraquet, NB E1W 1A5 Canada 506-727-ARTS (2787); fax: 506-727-1995
Tourism New Brunswick
P.O. Box 6000
Fredericton, NB Canada E3B
5H1 800-561-0123

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Academy Awards Ceremony

The glamour and glitz of Hollywood is on full display at the annual movie awards known as the Oscars or the Academy Awards. Presented every year since 1929 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, these awards are presented for outstanding achievements in filmmaking during the preceding year.
Some of the best star-gazing occurs before the actual awards ceremony. That’s when some of the film industry’s best-known actors and actresses arrive in limousines, wearing everything from tuxedos and designer evening gowns to far less conventional outfits. After the awards—which include Oscars for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Picture—are handed out, numerous after-show parties are held at various Los Angeles homes and restaurants.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
8949 Wilshire Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA 90211 310-247-3000; fax: 310-859-9619

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Abu Simbel Festival

This festival celebrates the two days of the year on which the light of the rising sun can reach the 180-foot deep innermost chambers of Abu Simbel, the great temple of Ramses II, in Egypt. The temple was designed so that only on these two days in February and October does the sun shine on the four gods in the sanctuary: Ptah, Amen-Re, Ramses, and Re-Horakhty. This temple, the most colossal in Egypt, was built by Ramses II between 1300 and 1233 B.C., and is famous for its four 65-foot statues of the seated Ramses. It is actually two temples—one for Ramses and one for queen Nefertiti— and is extraordinary for its grandeur, beauty, and history. It was unknown to the European world until Swiss explorer Johann Burckhardt found it in 1812. The Italian Giovanni Belzoni excavated the entrance and explored the temple in 1816. In 1964, when the new Aswan Dam was to be built, creating a lake that would have drowned the temple, it was cut into 2,000 pieces and reassembled at a site about 180 feet higher. It is not as perfect as it was at the foot of the cliff— but it was saved.
It is thought that there must have been ritual celebrations in ancient times on the days when the sun penetrated the sanctuary. Today, television covers the event, and people gather to see the sunrise and to meditate. The sun now shines on the sanctuary a day earlier than it did before the temple was moved.
Egypt Ministry of Information State Information Service or

Aboakyer Festival

The Effutu people of Winneba, Ghana, celebrate the Deer-Hunting Festival by making an offering to the god Penkye Otu. Two groups known as the Asafo companies, each consisting of about 150 people ranging in age from young boys to grandfathers, compete in a deer hunt that begins at dawn with the pounding of drums and the ringing of bells. When the first deer is caught, the victorious company brings it back alive and presents it proudly to their chief. Then the animal is taken back to the village, where dancing and drumming continue in an effort to placate Penkye Otu so that he will bring them a bountiful year.

Ghana Tourist Board
P.O. Box 3106
Accra, Ghana
011-233-21-222153; fax: 011-233-21-231779

Abdu’l-Baha, Ascension of

A holy day in the Baha’i religion, commemorating the death of Abbas Effendi, known as Abdu’l-Baha, in 1921 in Haifa, Palestine (now Israel). The eldest son of Mirza Husayn Ali, known as Baha’u’llah, the prophet-founder of the Baha’i faith, he was named the leader of the Baha’i community in his father’s will, which also appointed him to interpret Baha’i writings. In turn, Abdu’l-Baha appointed his eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi (1896-1957) as his successor and Guardian of the Cause. Today the affairs of the worldwide Baha’i community are administered by the Universal House of Justice, a body that meets in Haifa andis elected every five years.

Baha’i National Center 1233 Central St. Evanston, IL 60201 800-22-UNITE (8-6483) or 847-869-9039

Abbotsford International Air Show

Widely recognized as Canada’s national air show, this three-day event is an opportunity for the aviation industry to display the latest developments in civilian aircraft. Since the first show was held in 1962, it has included aerobatic performances by the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Air Force, the Snowbirds Jet Team, and the U.S. Air Force’s Thun-derbirds. Aviation-related equipment ison display, and there is a large banquet featuring well-known personalities in the aviation and aerospace field. The show is held at the airport in Abbotsford, British Columbia, and is regularly attended by upwards of 200,000 people.

Abbotsford International Air-show Society 1276 Tower St., Unit #4 Abbotsford, BC V2T 6H5
Canada 604-852-8511; fax: 604-852-6093

Aban Parab

In the Zoroastrian calendar, each of the 30 days of the month bears the name of the yazata, or spiritual being, who is believed to preside over that day. Similarly, each of the 12 months bears the name of the vazata who rules over that month. When the dav and the month both share the same name, as thev do on the 10th of Aban, it is considered a name-dav feast. The vazata of the month of Aban is the female waters. On name-feast days Zoroastrians attend services in a fire temple, a meeting hall, or a private home.
Because of discrepancies in the calendars used by widely separated Zoroastrian communities around the world, there are now three different calendars in use, and the 10th of Aban can fall either in October, March, or February according to the Gregorian calendar.
Followers of the Zoroastrian religion, which was founded by the prophet Zoroaster {or Zarathushtra, who is believed to have lived around 1200 B.C.), today live primarily in Iran and northwestern India, although smaller communities exist in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Canada, the U.S., England, and Australia.