Category Archives: Holidays and Celebrations

Recommended books and activities for holidays and celebrations throughout the year.

What do Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur Celebrate?

Over the summer, our former intern Mitul shared her take on what Ramadan celebrates. Continuing in that tradition, since I’m Jewish I thought I’d share a bit about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. If you’re not Jewish, you may have seen these holidays on the calendar – or, if you’re lucky, even gotten off from school for them. But what are they really about?

Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year (in Hebrew, it literally means “Head of the Year”) and celebrates the beginning of Apples and honeythe new Hebrew year. Because the Jewish calendar is based on the moon, the actual date of Rosh Hashana varies from year to year, but it always falls somewhere in the fall. For Jews, Rosh Hashana is a holy day, but a happy one: although it’s solemn and most people celebrate it by spending time in synagogue praying, it is a holiday focused on hope for a sweet new year. Because of that, the traditional food associated with Rosh Hashana is apples dipped in honey.

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Happy birthday, Richard Wright

Richard Wright

Author Richard Wright was born on September 4, 1908 on a plantation in rural Mississippi. He attended school through the first few weeks of high school before he dropped out to work, but always maintained a deep love of reading. As a black man in the South at that time, he was not allowed to borrow books from the library, so he borrowed the library card of an Irish American co-worker to access books. He later became a respected author of such classics as Native Son and his autobiography, Black Boy. Happy birthday, Richard Wright!

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Bryce Moore’s Guide to Slovakia, Part II

guest bloggerIn this guest post by Vodník author Bryce Moore, Bryce continues to share his favorite things to see, do, and eat when visiting Slovakia.

What to See

In my last post, I gave a rundown of some of Slovakia’s best castles. But Slovakia’s more than just castles:

Bratislava is the capital of the country. It’s a gorgeous old city, and it’s only 45 minutes away from Vienna–they make excellent cities to tour together. Bratislava has much of the same refined culture that you see in Vienna, but it’s at a fraction of the price. (I once went to the state opera and got box seats for $4. Prices have gone up significantly since then, or course.) Check out the markets in the old square, where craftsmen from around the area come together each day to sell their wares. Great stuff.

Tatra Mountains, Slovakia
Tatra Mountains, Slovakia

Banska Stiavnica is a fascinating old mining city. It’s a drive to get there, but once you arrive, you find a city that’s essentially been left alone for the last few hundred years. (One of the tragedies of many places in Slovakia is that Communists made it a point to tear down or change a lot of the historical landmarks. Banska Stiavnica must not have been deemed important enough to warrant Communist attention.) It’s got mines that are over 700 years old, a series of reservoirs, fantastic old churches–and some of the steepest hills I’ve walked up and down. Bring your hiking shoes! (And make sure to check out the Chateau in St. Anton, a town right next to the city. It’s honestly better than any of the attractions I went to in Vienna. Much more authentic—it really gives you a sense of how the Hapsburgs lived.

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What does Ramadan celebrate?

from Sharing Our Homeland
from Sharing Our Homeland

Today marks the first day of Ramadan, a month-long celebration for Muslims around the world. Ramadan occurs during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is a time for prayer, fasting, and self-reflection. According to Islamic tradition, Ramadan is when Allah, God, revealed the first verses of the Qu’ran, the holy book, to the prophet Muhammed.

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Happy LGBT Pride Month!

June is LGBT Pride Month, and throughout this month people everywhere (including President Obama) have been celebrating the positive impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have had in the world. The fight for LGBT rights has always been a matter of civil rights and equality, as our publisher noted in a recent post, and it’s nice that we live in an era when that’s acknowledged by so many people.

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The biggest full moon of the year

In our busy day-to-day life, certain things often slip by unnoticed. When is the last time you stepped outside to admire a full moon?

A Full Moon is Rising image

If you can’t remember the last time you admired the moon, tomorrow night is the night to do it. Thanks to the fact that our lunar neighbor will be especially close to Earth (a mere 221,802 miles away!), tomorrow’s moon is expected to be the biggest, brightest full moon of the year, also known as a supermoon.

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Celebrating International Women’s Day

As you may know, today is International Women’s Day. Although it has become a bit of a Valentine’s Day sequel in some communities, many countries are still recognizing the holiday for it’s original purpose. The United Nations created this day to recognize women who have impacted our world, as well as a way to focus public service efforts towards women in need around the world.

Each year since 1975 (when the United States began celebrating IWD), the United Nations selects a theme to focus the day’s efforts. This year’s theme is “Empower Rural Women- End Hunger and Poverty”, and I encourage you to find out more about what you can do to participate in this important cause.

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