The Holidays We Celebrate
Among the most ethnically diverse townships in the state and country, Niles Township further distinguishes itself by celebrating that diversity and creating a respectful and welcoming home to all.
Many Niles Township residents come from places all over the world, bringing with them rich traditions and celebrating holidays of great importance to them. We celebrate along with our neighbors, sharing the meaning of holidays observed in Niles Township.
What Is Black History Month?
Since 1976, American presidents have not only designated February Black History Month, but endorsed a specific theme for the given year.
The Black History Month 2023 theme, “Black Resistance,” explores how "African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms and police killings," since the nation's earliest days.
In an effort to live, and maintain and protect economic success Black people have organized/planned violent insurrections against those who enslaved them, and armed themselves against murderous mobs. Additionally, some Black people thought that the best way to resist was to self-liberate as seen by the actions of those who left the plantation system.
Black resistance is a really useful theme in understanding Black History Month 2023. The theme inspires celebration of the ways in which Black people have resisted oppression, discrimination, and prejudice over history.
The seeds of Black History Month were planted in 1926 when G. Woodson Carter established Negro History week with the idea of having a theme each year to better focus public attention. The designation expanded to a month, but the idea of an annual theme has remained in place.
Black History Month is celebrated in February in the United States and Canada, but in October in Europe. February is the birth month of Abraham Lincoln, who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and African American abolitionist, author, and orator Frederick Douglass.
What is World Hajib Day?
An annual event founded in 2013, World Hijab Day encourages women of all religions and backgrounds to wear and experience the hijab, a head covering worn by some Muslim women in public.
The event was created by social activist Nazma Kahn. The annual date was chosen for the anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini’s return to Iran in 1979 and the subsequent compulsion of Purdah, a religious and social practice of female seclusion prevalent among some Muslim and Hindu communities. The event is marked each year in some 190 countries throughout the world.
Millions of Muslim women choose to wear the hijab to reflect living a life of modesty. Educational and celebratory events are often held on World Hijab Day.
What Is Candlemas?
Candlemas, which is also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Feast of the Holy Encounter, commemorates the presentation of Jesus at the Temple.
An annual Christian Holy Day, it springs from the account of the presentation of Jesus in Luke 2:22–40. In accordance with Leviticus 12: a woman was to be purified by presenting a lamb as a burnt offering, and either a young pigeon or dove as sin offering, 33 days after a boy's circumcision.
Candlemas always falls on Feb. 2 — traditionally the 40th day of and the conclusion of the Christmas–Epiphany season. Some Christians historically remove decorations after Candlemas. On Candlemas, many Christians (especially Anglicans, Methodists, Lutherans, Orthodox and Roman Catholics) also bring their candles to their local church, where they are blessed and then used for the rest of the year.
For Christians, these blessed candles serve as a symbol of Jesus Christ, who referred to Himself as the Light of the World.
What Is Thaipusam?
The festival of Thaipusam is celebrated during the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February). It’s a time to ask Lord Murugan, son of Lord Shiva, for forgiveness, good health and peace in the new year.
It is mainly observed in countries where there is a significant presence of Tamil community such as India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius. It is also observed in other venues where ethnic Tamils reside as a part of the local Indian diaspora population such as Canada, Singapore, South Africa, the United States, Réunion, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica and the other parts of the Caribbean.
Thaipusam is a national holiday in many countries such as Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Mauritius. In India, Tamil Nadu state is declared for holiday. In certain states of Malaysia and in the nations of Sri Lanka and Mauritius, it is also a government and a bank holiday.
What Is Valentine’s Day?
Everyone knows Valentine’s Day occurs Feb. 14 not only across the United States but in other places around the world as well. The celebrations include candy, flowers and gifts exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine.
But the history of Valentine’s Day—and the story of its patron saint—is somewhat shrouded in mystery. February has long been celebrated as a month of romance as St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.
The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.
One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome and was killed for for performing marriages that were forbidden. Others believe that it was Saint Valentine of Terni, a bishop, who was the true namesake of the holiday. He, too, was beheaded by Claudius II outside Rome. Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured.
Even the celebration of Valentine’s Day is the subject of different theories. Some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial. Others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of a fertility festival called Lupercalia.
What Is Random Acts Of Kindness Day?
Each Feb. 17, National Random Acts of Kindness Day is celebrated by individuals, groups and organizations nationwide to encourage acts of kindness.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, an internationally recognized non-profit organization, celebrates Random Acts of Kindness Week, providing resources and tools that encourage acts of kindness.
In New Zealand, where this day originated, Random Acts of Kindness Day is celebrated on Sept. 1. However, some there recognize the day at other times throughout the year. One of the key messages of the day is that doing random acts of kindness is something that can be done every day of the year.
In the United States, Random Acts Of Kindness Day was first created in Denver in 1995. Random Acts of Kindness Week, which contains Random Acts Of Kindness Day, was introduced in 2018.
For more information on ways to mark Random Acts Of Kindness Day and celebrate kindness, visit https://www.randomactsofkindness.org.
What Is Presidents’ Day?
Presidents’ Day is celebrated the third Monday in February, marking and honoring the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The day is also recognized by some as celebrating the birthdays of all U.S. Presidents.
The seed for Presidents’ Day was planted in the 1880s when the birthday of Washington was first celebrated as a federal holiday. In 1968, Congress decided that Washington’s Birthday be renamed Presidents’ Day to honor the birthdays of both Washington (Feb. 22) and Lincoln (Feb. 12). Although Lincoln’s birthday is celebrated separately in many states including Illinois, it never became an official federal holiday.
Presidents’ Day shifted celebration of Washington from his actual birthday to a designated Monday every year under a measure known as the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The law redirected the celebration of several federal holidays from specific dates to a series of predetermined Mondays — allowing U.S. workers to enjoy more three-day weekends.
What Is Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras, a carnival celebration beginning on the Feast of Epiphany and culminating the Tuesday before Lent, is best known in New Orleans where it’s a state legal holiday. Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday.
Its traditions are rooted in ancient Greek and Roman customs. Carnival in Rome became popular around the middle of the second century as a way to feast and act wild before the somber days of Lent.
It’s believed the first American Mardi Gras took place March 3, 1699, when the French explorers Iberville and Bienville landed in what is now Louisiana. They held a small celebration. Each year, it grew bigger with street parties, masked balls, and extravagant dinners. However, when the Spanish took over, the celebrations were banned until Louisiana became a U.S. state in 1812.
On Mardi Gras in 1827, a group of students wearing bright costumes danced through the streets of New Orleans, emulating the revelry they’d observed in Paris. Ten years later, the first recorded New Orleans Mardi Gras parade took place.
What is Ash Wednesday?
Lent, a Christian observance beginning after Shrovetide, lasts 40 days, excluding Sundays, beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Sunday. Easter falls on the Sunday that coincides with the first Sunday after the full moon following the Spring Equinox.
Traditionally, Lent is a penitential time with prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial. It’s the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. During Lent, devote Christians fast by giving up decadent foods and/or luxuries.
Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent. Many Christians attend morning services. They are blessed and a cross of ashes is drawn on their foreheads to renew their faith in God and to apologize for wrongs committed during the previous year.
Four days later is Quadragesima Sunday. In Roman Catholic tradition, it’s the first Sunday during the holy season of Lent. Like on other Sundays of Lent, it’s customary to dispense from the fast, as Sundays are not counted among the 40 days of Lent.