St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick’s Day celebrates Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick. It was originally celebrated as a Catholic feast day, though it is now a mostly secular holiday in many parts of the world. Today St. Patrick’s day celebrates Irish culture all around the world. In Ireland, many festivities and parades are held, but Ireland encourages celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day all around the world. Many people spend St. Patrick’s Day at parades and at Irish pubs around town. Alcohol is often an important part of any St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Most people wear the color green on St.

Purim

Purim is a Jewish holiday celebrated on the 14th day of the Hebrew month Adar. It celebrates the Jewish people being saved from death by the Persian Empire. The Persian King Ahasuerus’s vizier, Haman planned to kill all the Jews in the empire. They were saved by a man named Mordecai and his niece, Esther, who was married to the king. There are four traditions the people try to follow on this day. The first is reading the Book of Esther, which is usually done in a synagogue the evening prior to Purim. The second is giving food to friends and family. The third is giving charity to the poor.

Casimir Pulaski Day

Casimir Pulaski Day in celebrated on the first Monday of March in Illinois. It celebrates the birthday of Casimir Pulaski, a Polish soldier who fought in the American Revolution. He was enlisted to help in the war by Benjamin Franklin, whom he met in Paris. His efforts were detrimental in helping the United States gain independence from Britain. He died in 1779 and was granted honorary citizenship of the United States in 2009. Casimir Pulaski Day is a legal holiday in Illinois, but it is sometimes celebrated by Polish-Americans all across the country.

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year celebrates the beginning of the year in the lunisolar Chinese calendar. Generally it falls between the end of January and the middle of February on the Gregorian calendar. This is the longest and most festive of Chinese holidays. Celebrations begin the night before and can sometimes last up to a month. People of Chinese heritage celebrate the Chinese New Year all around the world. Chinese New Year is all about banishing bad fortune from the previous year and bringing good fortune into the New Year. People will often clean their houses to start fresh.

Ash Wednesday/Carnival

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent in the Christian tradition. Lent is a time for fasting and prayer that begins 46 days prior to Easter. It represents the 40 days Jesus Christ spent fasting in the desert. Special church services are also held. Priests will often place a cross of blessed ash on the foreheads of worshippers to remind them of their sins. Traditionally, these ashes came from the palm branches which had been blessed on the previous year’s Palm Sunday. This is what gives Ash Wednesday its name.

Mardi Gras - Shrove Tuesday

Mardi Gras takes place every year on Shrove Tuesday, the last day before lent begins in the Christian tradition. It also marks the end of the Carnival season for many Catholic and Orthodox communities. Because lent is a time to give up things such fatty foods and festivities, Mardi Gras is a day of excess. It is the last day to enjoy things forbidden during lent. Traditionally, people would try to get rid of things like milk, butter, and eggs.

Daisy Gatson Bates day

Daisy Gatson Bates Day is celebrated on the same day as Presidents’ Day, the third Monday of February in Arkansas. It honors Daisy Gatson Bates who was an Arkansas civil rights activist. She was involved in working towards desegregation in Arkansas schools.

Susan B. Anthony Day

Susan B. Anthony Day celebrates the life and achievements of women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony. Anthony played an important part in helping women win the right to vote. She was born on February 15, 1820. Her birthday is celebrated in in Wisconsin, California, Florida, and West Virginia.