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.

Presidents' Day

Presidents’ Day is a holiday that honors all of the past U.S. presidents and their achievements. It is celebrated on the third Monday of February. This date was chosen because both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were born in mid-February. They are two of the most celebrated presidents on Presidents’ Day.

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.

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day celebrates romantic love and all kinds of love. Many people dedicate this day to spending time with their significant others. They exchange gifts and cards and celebrate together with romantic meals. This can also be a time to express love to other loved ones through cards and gifts of chocolates or flowers. Traditionally, this day commemorates Saint Valentine, who was arrested and executed for performing wedding ceremonies for Roman soldiers, who were forbidden to marry. There were several other Saints named Valentine who are also celebrated on this day.