In the United States, autumn means two holidays that most of us celebrate: Halloween on Oct. 31 and Thanksgiving in November. And while Halloween is common in Western culture in general, other countries have their own autumn traditions.
Let’s take a metaphorical trip around the world from September through mid-December and look at the interesting, unique celebrations that occur:
“Remember! Remember! The fifth of November!” That’s the rallying cry that accompanies a night of fireworks and effigy burnings on Bonfire Night (or Guy Fawkes Day) in the United Kingdom. Fawkes was a Catholic who wanted to turn his country back from the Protestant religion and rejoin Rome. He, along with some friends, hatched the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, in which they meant to blow up Parliament. They failed.
This raucous celebration each November is not to memorialize Fawkes, but to mock him, as only the British can.
- On Nov. 11 in Germany, you can catch the St. Martin’s Day celebrations. St. Martin is the patron saint of the poor and was a “friend to children.” Similar to Halloween, the holiday marks the end of the year’s harvest, as well as the end of the agrarian year. Germans mark the day with bonfires, parades of children carrying lanterns, a neighborly feast with a pig as the main course and celebrators receive Martin’s pretzels. In some regions, children go from house to house carrying their lanterns and singing songs in exchange for candy. In other parts of Germany, the feast consists of a roasted goose.
- Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, an official holiday in Fiji, Guyana, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. The celebration spans several days and falls on a different autumn day each year. Hindu people clean and decorate their homes and businesses in preparation and feasts, gifts and crafts follow. The festival not only honors Hindu gods, but is a way of honoring family – spouses and siblings, especially. On the final day, Indian and Pakistani soldiers patrolling their respective borders offer gifts of candy to each other for peace.
- The Cambodian Water Festival, Bon Om Touk, in November celebrates the reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap River and the end of the rainy season. Like Diwali, the dates change each year. In 2017, it will occur from Nov. 3-4. In 2018, it will be Nov. 22-24. The largest celebration happens in Phnom Penh and the festivities include boat races and concerts. They also include ceremonies and traditional foods.
What are some of the fall holidays and festivals you’ve heard of around the world? Are there any you’ve always wanted to experience first-hand? And if you’ve attended any, what was your favorite part?
Regardless of whether you’ve been, just hop on that next private jet and head on out this fall (or next!) to see what they world has to offer!